Friday, September 16, 2011

Metropolitan

1990, 98 min., PG-13
IMDB says... 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.

The 73rd Virgin says... A monotone but charming survey of extremely well off preppies in New York. The title card says "not so long ago" and though these look like modern kids, the dialog and attitude have a certain jazz age feel. I have no idea what era director/writer Whit Stillman had in mind, other than 1990, because I simply have never been around anyone like these characters. For some reason, when it was over, I wanted to watch "Cloverfield".

The dialog is, umm, plentiful, but the characters are engaging in the sense that half of them, male and female, seem to be channeling Woody Allen. The acting is strangely stilted like they were deliberately trying to film a stage play, but that may be because there is so much verbiage to chew through.

Briefly, a group of trust-funded Upper East-siders share a cab with a former trust-funder named Tom from the West side. Tom is somewhat financially stressed, probably thanks to his stepmother, and the group invites him to one of their chatty parties. His quasi-socialist views and blunt expression make him fascinating to the group and he becomes a permanent hanger-on. Taken under wing by the wealthiest of the group, Nick, played by the very funny Chris Eigeman, Tom slowly adopts their values and begins to rely on them for friendship. And that's kinda it.

The final lesson, gently taught, is that such groups don't last forever, and those that think they do eventually find themselves alone and confused by their fate. But there's nothing particularly sad or tragic about the discovery. New groups form.

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