Arts and Culture

Broke-Ass Nostalgia: Metropolitan

Updated: Feb 05, 2012 23:38
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Something can hardly be nostalgic if it is not well-known in the first place, but Whit Stillman’s first feature film Metropolitan (1990) is worth remembering. For me, this was the first “independent” film that I ever rented from the video store, and only because I had seen it on the shelf a few times and was mesmerized by seemingly sophisticated characters in fantastic party dresses.

Tom, a freshman at Princeton, is home during the break at his home on the Upper West Side of New York City, who through a chance meeting in a taxi cab, gets indoctrinated into a group of rich, debutante friends. At first Tom is more amused by these characters, questioning their conservative political views, but as he spends time with them idly chatting and attending various debutante balls, becomes swept up in the social dynamics and relationships with the group.

The characters of Metropolitan talk, dress up, play Bridge, try to act like adults, and talk some more. They have names like “Rick Von Sloneker” and “Audrey Rouget”. This is from a time when indie film means zero budget, but this film doesn’t need any major action or elaborate sets. It is entertaining for those that like to feel like they are on the inside of an intense conversation.

Two decades later, Metropolitan makes me nostalgic for the New York City it once was. It’s amusing to see that Tom is considered “poor” because he lives with his divorced father on the Upper West Side and not on the Upper East Side like the rest of the clique. The film also captures the materialistic and upperwardly-mobile culture of the late eighties, much like the book/film American Psycho, minus the extreme violence and sex.

Being a Broke-Ass, you are probably wondering why in the hell you would want to watch a twenty-year old film about spoiled rich college kids. The brilliance of the film is that, behind all the rich clothes, parties, and ivy league education, it’s all about finding connections with people and feeling like you belong. Isn’t that all what any of us wants? The rich part just isn’t essential to gaining it.

Sadly, Whit Stillman only blessed the cinematic world with two other films, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, both chronicling privileged young people sharing signature dialogue styles as Metropolitan. Equally sad, none of the young stars of Metropolitan have had much success in any films, except for perhaps Chris Eigman.

Metropolitan was recently released in the Criterion Collection, and, even better, is streaming on Netflix Instant.


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Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin was raised in the shopping malls of suburban Long Island, New York. As a teenager, her life goals were to become a writer and marry Bret Michaels. After attending college at the University of Delaware (yes, in the state of Delaware) and earning a graduate degree educationl at NYU, she's achieved only one of those goals. Along with writing, Robin enjoys performing improv comedy, internet memes, cross-stitch, and showing off her alarmingly extensive knowledge of obscure pop culture trivia. Currently, Robin resides in Oakland, CA and is writing a book about the 1980s teen book series, Sweet Valley High.

1 Comment

  1. February 7, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I have a Google Alert for “play bridge” and that’s how come I found this posting. The reason I would like to see Metropolitan is because indicates these are rich YOUNG people and playing bridge in the 80s! I needed that bit of pop culture trivia a couple years ago writing my book about sociable bridge playing–any evidence of other than old ladies like me playing, I love to find. I look forward to seeing Metropolitan,

    Like you, I got hooked on “obscure pop culture trivia” (in my case sociable bridge and ladies bridge lunch) years ago, kept collecting it until finally at age 88 vowed I’d put it into a book or throw it into the dumpster instead of leaving that to my daughter when I die. And so I did that–Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? is its title. Great reviews from bridge establishment types, but first real break I’ve gotten for publicity will be in April Country Living. Editor wrote having Googled and come upon my website seeking just what my book is about, They are doing a series of articles oncollectibles and bridge is to be topic in April. I am so pleased having pursued this quirky niche for so long.