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The Essentials: Metropolitan (1990)

A group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season, when an unusual outsider joins them and stirs them up. (PG-13, 99 min.)


Wednesday, December 11, 2024

7:00 PM

This monthly series showcases essential films everyone should see on the big screen.
The Essentials series is Free for Members.

One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, the surprise hit Metropolitan, by writer-director Whit Stillman, is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a young man’s romantic misadventures while trying to fit in to New York City’s debutante society. Stillman’s deft, literate dialogue and hilariously highbrow observations earned this first film an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Beneath the wit and sophistication, though, lies a tender tale of adolescent anxiety. [Criterion]

Starring: Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman
Director: Whit Stillman
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Romance

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"A witty, urbane portrait of Manhattan's debutante scene."

— Matthew Leyland,

"His sensitive cinematic balance of performance, image, and inflection suggests a sensibility inspired, worthily, by F. Scott Fitzgerald."

— Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"Stillman sketches his characters with gentle humor, capturing not only their foibles and foolishnesses but the earnest intentions behind them"

— Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

"Metropolitan is a melancholic lament for not-quite-doomed youth-a self-styled new "lost generation" that isn't really lost, but might just never have a purpose."

— Jonathan Romney, Film Comment Magazine

"It's the beautifully chiselled dialogue -- counterpointed by near-static camerawork and a nicely mannered acting style -- that remains the chief attraction."

— Andrew Pulver, Guardian

"Filmmaker Whit Stillman makes a strikingly original debut with Metropolitan, a glib, ironic portrait of the vulnerable young heirs to Manhattan's disappearing debutante scene."

— Variety Staff, Variety

"Stillman films these rounds of romance and jealousy, old mind-sets and new friendships, as scintillating dialectical jousts in which verbal blows take the place of action and leave lasting emotional wounds."

— Richard Brody, New Yorker

"Whit Stillman's crafty independent feature about wealthy Park Avenue teenagers and a middle-class boy who joins their ranks over one Christmas vacation is certainly well imagined, and impressively acted by a cast of newcomers."

— Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

"Metropolitan, Stillman's first movie, is as unexpectedly irresistible as ever: funny, moving, and entertaining, with a wonderful cast of unknowns (who have remained unknown) and quite a number of ideas, served up seamlessly and unassumingly."

— Luc Sante, Criterion