Metropolitan (1990): A New York Fantasy

I own a copy of Metropolitan, the first of the Whit Stillman trilogy that includes Barcelona and the Last Days of Disco. This is one of those films I can watch again and again, and do. I enjoy its wit, charm, insouciance (my goodness is it bourgeois), and the casting (Chris Eigeman!). I had just turned fifteen when I saw it for the first time; my friend Steven and I took the Metro-North down to Manhattan and watched it somewhere downtown. We laughed throughout the whole film – it appealed to our sense of humor and for weeks after that, we would imitate its witty repartee: “The cha cha is no more ridiculous than life itself.”

Sometimes when I re-watch this film I become truly nostalgic for that little bit of Manhattan which Stillman portrays: the casual jadedness, the genteel parlor banter, the formalized socializing. In some ways it is a New York fantasy – the old family debutante parties from my adolescence no longer exist. But the youngsters still come home from college for an extended stay over the holidays and go to their old places and seek solace with their clan. It will always be a wonderful place to come home to – and it is that New York reality which Stillman beautifully captures.

Metropolitan, dir. Whit Stillman, 98 mins. Allagash Films, 1990.

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