Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: Metropolitan (1990)

The bones of Pride and Prejudice find a new body in New York, 1990, where yet again, two acquaintances fall in love with each other, at different times.

Stillman chucks us into the middle of group of friends and gives us enough credit to leave the introductions between the characters offscreen. While we're catching up with the diagram of how these card-carrying members of the UHB know each other, we observe complex social interactions where the concept of 'fun' lies distant from its practice and heated debates appear initially to end in a fractures, but do not. A strange sort of stuffiness remains in dances, games of bridge, and even in a game of strip poker, during 'orgy week.' Emotional outbursts are directed internally, buried beneath prep-school trivia and golden one-liners that are impossible to repeat to your friends.

Eventually, it's time for the plot to move and we languish in an Eigeman-less limbo, a third act that could have probably progressed in fewer steps with stronger stakes. The group dynamic changes so fast that there is only time to lament its loss, and the characters we are left with realize that they were good buddies all along, perhaps at the same time we do. The film's ending leaves various threads dangling, indicating the final page of a journal rather than the closed loop of a story. Its strongest connected thread is that being poor is no limit to snobbery and wealth is no limit to pain, and it's enough.

Thank you, Austen and Allen. You're welcome, Baumbach and Smith.

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