Metropolitan (1990)

Metropolitan is an entertaining, but emotionally distant, film about young Manhattan socialites, who define themselves not as “preppys” but as the bourgeois youth. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the setting is a timeless New York that sometimes looks like the late 1980s but could really be anytime.

We are presented with a fresh storyline, of sophisticated young adults doing and saying whatever they please. They operate within a kind of legitimate dishonesty; one character considers himself a scholar of literature despite having only read literary criticisms rather than the texts themselves, and another justifies his slander as having a “factual basis.”

The warped vision of morality these characters have is even more striking by how easily we the audience fall into it; in one scene, the excellent and sharp-witted character Tom is confronted for the lies he has spread about his social rival Rick, and we are (or, at least, I was) on his side; for all the manipulation Tom has conducted throughout the film, we shared in that juicy gossip and are just as guilty to be caught in his trap.

In addition to giving us fun dialogue and scenarios, the narrative moves in a believable and logical fashion, despite the somewhat hyperbolic nature of the characters. The group of friends feels tight for a few glorious days, but in the film’s second half, it disintegrates organically, as the “honeymoon” period ends and each follows his or her individual pursuits.

My one disappointment with this film is the lack of emotional engagement; I am a sucker for coming-of-age films and films about witty, sophisticated youth, so the fact that there was no emotional connection sets a ceiling for this film, in my book at least. Metropolitan is a very entertaining, believable, though a not exactly hard-hitting black comedy.

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