Anyone who lived through the 1980’s can not hear the term Preppy and not smile! For the rest of you young things who were just a twinkle in your parents eyes, take notice and rent the movie Metropolitan, writer, director and producer Whit Stillman’s witty take on the WASP subculture of young upper-class Manhattanites as they spend their Christmas holiday attending debutant balls and discussing the downward social mobility of the upper class. It will fill you in on many of the cultural references that you might hear from your parent’s or their friends, and give you a good laugh at the 1980’s women’s fashions that today, just look downright overstated and clownish.
(Let’s hope that 1980’s fashion does not resurface soon!)
I adore this film for its clever, snarky dialogue, gentle irony and Jane Austen references. The parallels between her novel Mansfield Park and Metropolitan have been debated by critics and even included in the essay ‘From Mansfield to Manhattan: The Abandoned Generation of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan’ by R. V. Young which can be downloaded in PDF here. The heroine of the film is Audrey Rouget (Carolyn Farina), a shy upper-class socialite who falls for middle-class Tom Townsend (Edward Clements). She is a Jane Austen admirer and the two of them have an interesting conversation about her favorite author and literature.
Carolyn Farina as Audrey Rouget
Audrey: “I read that Lionel Trilling essay you mentioned. You really like Trilling?”
Audrey: “I think he’s very strange. He says that nobody could like the heroine of Mansfield Park? I like her.
Then he goes on and on about how we modern people of today with our modern attitudes, bitterly resent Mansfield Park because…its heroine is virtuous? What’s wrong with a novel having a virtuous heroine?”
Tom: “His point is that the novel’s premise…there’s something immoral in a group of young people putting on a play? Simply absurd.”
Audrey: “You found Fannie Price unlikeable?”
Tom: “She sounds pretty unbearable, but I haven’t read the book.”
Tom: “You don’t have to have read a book to have an opinion on it. I haven’t read the Bible, either.”
Audrey: “What Jane Austen novels have you read?”
Tom: “None. I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelist’s ideas as well as the critic’s thinking. With fiction, I can never forget that none of it ever happened; that it’s all just made up by the author.”
Edward Clements as Tom Townsend
This independent film was produced on a shoe-string budget and used unknown actors, notably Taylor Nichols as Charlie Black the angst ridden intellectual Woody Allen type and Chris Eigeman (who I adore and just think is the most under used actor in Hollywood) as the cynical and smug Nick Smith. This film is grouped together as the Stillman trilogy which also includes Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998), another favorite of mine which is unfortunately not available to purchase, rent or steal!
Chris Eigeman as Nick Smith
Further viewing & reading
- Watch the entire film on streaming video on Hulu.com (US residents only)
- Whit Stillman on Wikipedia
- Whit Stillman: The Unoffical web site
- Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan at Slate Magazine online
- Metropolitan on IMDB
Mansfield Park Madness: Day 6 Give-away
Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for a free drawing on August 31 for
Written and directed by Whit Stillman. Independent motion picture, 98 minutes. Staring Carolyn Farina as Audrey Rouget, Taylor Nichols as Charlie Black and Chris Eigeman as Nick Smith.
Day 7 – Aug 21 MP novel discussion chapters 17-24
Day 8 – Aug 22 MP great quotes and quips
Day 9 – Aug 23 MP novel discussion chapters 25-32
Day 10 – Aug 24 MP 1999 movie discussion
This looks pretty funny and interesting. I have not seen it but I did grow up in the eighties. I think it would be interesting to watch it after I read Mansfield to watch for the similarities and references.
I seems like a very interesting movie. I was only 5 in 1990 and from outside USA, so I’ve never heard of it before. I’ll see if I can find it the place where I usually rent DVD, but somehow I doubt it…
I’ve never heard of Metropolitan either, but I do remember calling people Preppy.
THANK YOU for reminding me how much I LOVE Metropolitan (Barcelona was good too, but Last Days of Disco was a tad disappointing). I need to re-re-re watch it again. For me Chris Eigeman will never be any other character but Nick Smith.
I have also never heard of ‘Metropolitan’ and its connection to Mansfield Park. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s a bad movie because imdb rated it 7.2/10 stars. If there’s a chance, I’ll watch the movie.
I’ve never heard of the movie either, but I think I’ll try it out soon.
ah, this is a brilliant movie. i haven’t seen it in a while but whit stilman has a way of directing line delivery that i find fascinating, and you know, i think i would be very interesting applied to a jane austen story, the kind of layering of voices. very nice tie in!
also, chris eigeman is one of my favorites too (although nick farrell wins by a mile…so to speak).
if you have not seen this movie, do! it’s kind of stylized and may take a little effort to get into it, but it’s really very good.
I rented this based on Ellen’s high praise and found it nearly unwatchable…and MP is my favorite. I grew up the 80s so it wasn’t the cultural references; I watch lots of obscure movies, so it wasn’t the arcanity. It was just that it was like watching paint dry. I didn’t care about it or the characters in the least.
I hadn’t heard to Metropolitan before, but I’ll have to add it to my list of movies to watch. Afterall, I have been watching a lot of random 80’s movies recently!
Hello to all Mansfield Park Madness participants – Day 6
I am more than slightly influenced in my praise for this movie. I have watched it several times over the years, and it still makes me LOL – enough so to startle my cats! I adore the snarky character Nick Smith. He is so outspoken and self righteous. You don’t meet people like that too often in real life, so in a movie, which is basically a fanatsy of real life, seeing him express himself so decidedly is a cathartic.
Thanks to everyone for your great comments.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
OMG, this movie looks sooooo good! Interesting and funny, too. I think I”m really going to like the main character, Audrey- she pretty much shares my views on Fanny Price =)
This film sounds wonderful! Thanks for posting about it…I need to see it!!
Where was I when this movie came out?? Oh, the 80’s–high school, college and thinking we were so cool with the big hair and shoulder pads to match!
I’ll have to search this movie out for rental, it looks very interesting.