Monday, August 17, 2015

Metropolitan (1990)

Director: Whit Stillman
Writer:    Whit Stillman
Cast:       Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman

A group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season, when an unusual outsider joins them and stirs them up. 

I am not familiar with Jane Austen's work and I don't think I have seen any of the films that were adapted from her books. But I do have a vague idea about what it entails and this film has been described as a post-Austen work. I came across this film through an Indiewire article which described it to be an influence on the works of Richard Linklater and Noah Baumbach. That should be a reason enough to check out this little indie-hit from the 90s. Bourgeoisie is something that gets mocked in many of my favorite films and this film does a genre-bender on that, with having people from that class (self proclaimed as 'Urban Haute Bourgeoisie') discuss the pressures that they face and fret about downward-mobility. You have one character in it saying how he was looking forward to Luis Bunuel's 'Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie', thinking that it will be a film that appreciates the qualities of their class, going by the title. Film is laugh out loud funny with an extremely intelligent script. You have them complaining about the titled-aristocracy of Europe who looks down on them. A great thing about it is that even though we think we are getting a protagonist perspective from the outsider character played by Edward Clements, it is actually through Carolyn Farina that we view the film for the majority of its running length. So, we are not sure about his motives and in the end it turns out that he is quite honest about it which we find surprising. It is a character that many of us from the middle class/upper middle class can identify with and will make you question yourself. Some in the group find him to be a phony but he has got the backing of Chris Eigeman character, who acts as the Tyler Durden of the group. The ending of the film is quite contrived, but it does earn enough credit up till then for us to be happy about it. 

Overall it is a great watch and one that you will love it if you are the kind of person that enjoys the works of Woody Allen, Linklater and Noah Baumbach. Performances are great and it is really a coming-of-age film that is hilariously funny. Most of the cast were first-time actors who got the gig through auditions. It managed to get a screening at Cannes and got an academy award nomination for best screenplay. Whit Stillman made his directorial debut with this film and I will certainly catch up with other films. Metropolitan was made on a budget of $225k and was a box office success, grossing around $3 million.  

Rating: 4.5/5