Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan

Today I watched Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan (1990)

METROPOLITAN - American Poster.jpg

Set in New York during the Christmas holidays, Metropolitan follows a group of young college students from upper class backgrounds attending numerous debutante balls and the associated after parties.  The primary character of the bunch is Tom Townsend, who is more middle class than the colleagues whom he finds himself with in the film.  Really he stumbles into their community almost by accident, though soon finds himself quite embedded and dealing with the vagueries of coming of age.

This film is a request from a friend and obviously quite outside of my normal wheelhouse, which may explain why I had difficulty having any sort of reaction to the characters and events.  Then again maybe it is the distinct lack of emotion they show, which is perhaps intrinsic to it’s comedy of manners.  But then I didn’t see much point made of this standoffish and inexpressive manner, the film seemed to simply present it as a thing that is and of no further consequence.

I have rarely met people this stone faced, and certainly never entire groups of them, so the film was like an alien artifact to me.  Their upper class lives were likewise alien and distant from anything I could really relate it too, it was a strange experience to see people so devoid of what I have come to recognize as humanity.  I wondered if that was the point for a while, but the jaunty score seemed to be cuing me for some other, more empathetic response.  Frankly, I would avoid this film and I hope it’s presentation of it’s subjects is skewed as I cannot wrap my head around such stoicism actually existing.  2/5

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