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Metropolitan - Criterion Collection
Metropolitan - Criterion Collection
Actors: Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Taylor Nichols, Allison Parisi
Director: Whit Stillman
Genres: Comedy, Drama
PG-13     2006     1hr 38min

One of the most the most significant achievements of the American independent film movement of the 1990s, writer-director Whit Stillman's debut, Metropolitan, is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a middle-class young man's ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Taylor Nichols, Allison Parisi
Director: Whit Stillman
Creators: John Thomas, Whit Stillman, Christopher Tellefsen, Brian Greenbaum, Peter Wentworth
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: New Line Cinema
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/14/2006
Original Release Date: 08/03/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 08/03/1990
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Gatsby for the 90s
David Montgomery | | 06/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 1990 film by writer-director Whit Stillman is wonderfully refreshing and intelligent. It is sure to please audiences with a taste for the avant-garde or those just looking for something a little different.The story follows a group of upper-crust New York preppies during the Christmas debutante season. These are kids for whom black-tie balls at the Plaza Hotel and charming little soirees in Park Avenue apartments are serious matters. They are the UHB-"urban haute bourgeoisie"-a social circle carrying out traditions so anachronistic as to seem alien; traditions, in fact, which were outdated before these characters were even born.A middle class outsider and budding socialist named Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) happens into this elite group and briefly livens things up. He shocks them with his leftist rhetoric (he is a devotee of Fourier) and anti-deb outlook, but they nonetheless find themselves drawn to him. Tom finds a kindred spirit in the cynically fatalistic Nick (Christopher Eigeman). Nick is the most self-aware member of the inner circle and he provides comic relief with his devastating ongoing critique of their lives and behavior.Stillman's characters seem to have everything going for them. They are bright and educated and come from very wealthy families. We learn, though, that privilege is both their blessing and their curse. These children of status are destined to always remain in the shadow of their very successful parents. As one of them puts it, "We're doomed to failure." We come to realize that even though they are well-off in many ways, they still must struggle with the same insecurities and fears as the rest of us.The characters in "Metropolitan" are the kind of people that F. Scott Fitzgerald knew so well. Indeed, if Fitzgerald had been a director rather than a writer, this is the type of film he might have made. It is intelligent and literate with dialogue that almost crackles with its liveliness and wit. "Metropolitan" gives us a rare glimpse into a world that scarcely exists anymore, if it ever really did. It is a real treasure."
All that's missing is Noel Coward.
Brent Carleton | 12/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)


This movie glistens like a piece of old Belleek. Whether in the subtle gold of an off the shoulder evening gown, or in the vast expanse of a deep, plush, ivory colored carpet, nearly every frame shimmers with champagne like iridescence.

And gold is an apt visual metaphor, particularly when juxtaposed against the black satin of a tuxedo lapel or the wintry Manhattan night scape, for a world seemingly vanishing right before our eyes--a world too sleek, too soigné, too genteel to survive the steam roller of galloping blue-jeaned egalitarianism.

That the denizens of this vanishing breed, as depicted in the film, are themselves, insecure late adolescents, make its departure all the more poignant.

"This is probably the last Deb season..." one of them observes resignedly, "...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." Yes, everything...the huge smothering subject that hovers all around the plot itself and from which its characters are only temporarily insulated.

In particular, the focus here is on a group of privileged Eastern Seaboard collegians enjoying the Christmas holidays in a series of Park Avenue, "after dance parties," in which they loll about and ruefully anticipate the disappearance of their youth, their success, and their kind.

That they are one at the same time cerebral, immature, literate, prankish, frightened, polished, well educated but vulnerable and inexperienced, puts them well outside the troglodyte teens that inhabit the deconstructionist zoo in most post 1970 films, (with the exception of a unfortunate and mis-placed "strip poker" sequence which violates the picture's otherwise overall mood.)

Indeed, they seem to exist outside their own time, belonging rather to that group Cecil Beaton dubbed "the smart young things" from the 1920's, in his "The Glass of Fashion." Certainly, one imagines them far more comfortable with Ivor Novello than Mick Jagger. And like many "smart sets" they seem rather a closed corporation.

Until that is, into their number unexpectedly arrives a young man of reduced circumstances, Tom Townsend, (Edward Clements) who by virtue of his sincerity and intelligence, is invited to "sup at their table--on a borrowed pass" so to speak. His romantic misadventures with the beguiling Audrey Rouget(Carolyn Farina)forms the cynosure of the charmingly fragile plot.

Audrey and Tom stand out from the pack, in their earnestess and integrity, though it is assuredly Nick, (Christopher Eigeman) their figurehead and chief quip master who is the groups' un-elected leader. As interpreted by Mr. Eigeman, Nick is the embodiment of the cocktail fueled, cigarette wielding bon vivant--trenchant, self absorbed, far from virtuous, and with a ready verbal arrow that never misses its target. He is George Sander's heir presumptive.

Nick's observations are worth the whole price of admission as they say, whether it be bemoaning the Protestant Reformation, the social climbing Surrealists, or the scarcity of detachable collars.

Since the film's short, bouffant,cocktail dresses and automobiles unmistakably place the film in very late modernity--the Reagan era in fact, and long after the Ray Anthony's Orchestra, top hatted milieu it depicts, we cannot fail to miss the film's core observation--the parallel evanescence of the groups' own social connections, as placed against the simultaneous collapse of civilized life as we once knew it.

As the Christmas season ends, so do the nightly gatherings, and each character is forced to come to terms with impermanence--their own and everything else's. In a melancholy bar scene, an older man warns the youngsters of disappointment ahead, "I'm not destitute's all so mediocre."

That Producer/Director Whit Stillman manages to fuse the personal with the sociological in such and intriguing and entrancing way is a testament to the penetration of his vision.

And, lest we miss the point, he includes a cunning shot of a significant book left on bedside table--none other than Spengler's "Decline of the West."

A modern classic
Charles M. Brotton | Fort Smith, Arkansas | 07/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was one of this first things that I ever ordered from Amazon. Where do I begin--it is a film that people either love or hate. I think that has less to do with the directing/production, which is undisputably first rate (especially considering the very low budget involved--this film was a true independent...), as it does with the pot and characters themselves. Basically, viewers either see this film as a funny, sensitive piece about intelligent young people coming to terms with who they are (camp 1) or as a gaggle of whiny preppies wallowing in emotional self indulgence (camp 2). The middle ground is small. Given the five star rating, I think it is clear that I fall into the first camp--perhaps, it helps that I came from a background that was itself somewhat preppy--the major characters actually correspond to real people that I went to college with. the sheltered life, the late night bull sessions, the excessive worry about one's future, the cynical personas (i.e. Nick Smith), the cocktail party radicalism (i.e. Tom Townsend), and the curious mix sophistication with naivete are really quite real. The acting is first rate (especially considering that the cast was all unknown at the time this film was made, although some of the actors, particularly Chris Eigeman, have done well since than), so the characters are shown vividly."
Stillman is our Bergman
Matthew Fish | Dallas, TX | 03/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Metropolitan, the first of Stillman's trilogy of the lost aristocracy, is a fine example of the classical comedy. This is a very dense film, and much more than merely a comedy of manners (yet one says the same for Austen), but rather an exploration of the new lost generation: the children of the baby-boomers. In addition, these children form what would have been the aristocracy, yet in post-WWII America (or perhaps even post-civil war America, depending on your understanding of national history) the Aristocracy's place has disapeered. Not that Stillman is critiquing the Aristocracy itself, as one reviewer insinuated--far from it--Stillman is no egalitarian, and no doubt appreciates the role of class. Yet much like Descartes' example of the man with an amputated limb, who still feels sensation in that limb, these urban elites of New York are clumsily trying to fit into a mold that is antithetical to spirit of their culture. This is especially developed later in Last Days of Disco, as these Ivy-league grads who learned hard capitalism and aggresive business theory, still try to settle into their aristocratic positions allthewhile employing the economic principles they learned at college.In this analysis of a young aristocracy without a tradition (which Stillman understands indeed in the Burkean sense), these youths spend the holidays going to dances and hanging out afterwords at each others apartments. I don't want to offer simply a Cliff's notes to Stillman, so I won't let out all the insights that Stillman offers, while demanding much from the viewer in order to understand them. There's the enjoyment. Just pay attention to religious symbolism; that's huge for Stillman. (Ex. there is a moment in the film when one of the character's is leaving on a train, and a hymn by Luther is playing in the background) If you want some more hints, had an interview with him a while back you can probably still get, and Intercollegiate Review had a whole journel dedicated to his works a year or so ago.Stillman is by far the greatest director around today--his cultural commentary has the weight of a Proust or Claudel--don't miss it."