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Manhattan. Christmas vacation. Not so long ago...
An ironically comic look at Manhattan's endangered debutante scene, METROPOLITAN chronicles the rise and ultimate decline of a group of young Park Avenue socialites who gather nightly to discuss love, honor, and the impending demise of their class.
Into their midst comes an outsider in a rented tuxedo, Tom Townsend, a Fourierist socialist from the socially alien West Side. But there is a real escort shortage on, so Tom is welcomed into the group – particularly by Nick Smith, the group’s ostensibly arrogant but oddly kind ringleader, and by quietly charming Audrey Rouget.
Other members of the self-dubbed Sally Fowler Rat Pack, or “SFRP,” include Charlie Black, the preppie Spengler, devoted to Audrey; Cynthia, a budding femme fatale; the ever sleeping Fred; Jane, rich and judgmental; and Sally Fowler, in whose apartment they all meet.
Tom is unaware of Audrey’s crush on him. Although he claims to have gotten over his prep school infatuation with glamorous Serena Slocum, he actually thinks of little else. When Serena begins to reciprocate, Tom’s socio-political qualms about her social world fade.
Meanwhile, looming in the background is the handsome, dangerous Rick Von Sloneker, admired by the women but despised by Nick Smith. In the decadent, post-Christmas
“Orgy Week” (a bit of a misnomer), it is Von Sloneker’s shadow, which falls on the SFRP, contributing to the group’s disintegration and decline.
A witty, richly detailed comedy-drama, Metropolitan accurately portrays the surviving remnants of the world, which F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise caught at its heyday.
Release & Festival History
Metropolitan was a hit of the 1990 Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art’s “New Directors” series, and the Directors Fortnight at Cannes.
Released by New Line Cinema on August 3rd, 1990, it broke house records at the Paris Cinema and later at the Angelika Film Center in Soho. It had a seven month run in New York and continued to play in U.S. and Canada through the
Metropolitan was distributed worldwide and won awards at the Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland) and at Deauville (France).
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and for three Independent Spirit Awards, winning for Best First Feature.
The New York Film Critics Circle awarded it the prize for “Best New Director.”
Subsequently, the Wall Street Journal listed Metropolitan as the most profitable film in terms of return for its investors prior to The Blair Witch Project.
What the Critics Said
“Irresistibly funny.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
★★★★! “The single best movie of 1990… an utter delight.” – Richard Freedman, Newhouse Newspapers
★★★★! “Ironic, touching and wickedly funny… it’s hard to imagine a more impressive debut.” – Mike McGrady, Newsday
★★★★! “Simply divine…a wise, witty and wistful comedy.”
– Kathleen Carroll, New York Daily News
“Rich and nutty… a fine new film by a fine new director.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times
“(Whit Stillman) has made a film Scott Fitzgerald might have been comfortable with, a film about people covering their own insecurities with a façade of social ease. And he has written wonderful dialogue, words in which the characters discuss ideas and feelings instead of simply marching through plot points as most Hollywood characters do.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Entertaining and high spirited… I loved Whit Stillman’s funny, graceful Metropolitan.” – David Denby, New York Magazine
★★★★! “Hilarious and wonderful…. I absolutely loved it.” – Rex Reed, At the Movies
“Just about perfect…marvelously literate, comic and romantic.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Metropolitan’s humor is literate, urban, and ethnic… reminds me of early Woody Allen.” – Georgia Brown, The Village Voice
“Metropolitan is less a satire than a gentle comedy of manners and errant love in a tradition that goes back to Lubitsch, Jane Austen, Mozart, and Shakespeare…” – David Thomson, Movieline
“A disarming and delightful comedy.” – David Ansen, Newsweek
“Loads of fun.” – Andrew Sarris, New York Observer
“Whit Stillman makes a strikingly original debut with Metropolitan… offering rich, sparkling dialogue, distinct characters and an intriguing peek into a seldom-seen milieu.” – Variety
Whit Stillman’s effervescent, calmly profound first feature, from 1990, looks at a sliver of a sliver, the barely collegiate subset of what one character calls the urban haute bourgeoisie—rich Wasp preppies whose lives are centered on Park and Fifth Avenues. The tale is told from the perspective of ...