Metropolitan. 1990. USA. Written and directed by Whit Stillman. With Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Taylor Nichols. DCP. 98 min.
Whit Stillman’s 1990 debut introduced an Upper East Side universe as distinctive as John Ford’s American West, populated by wealthy young socialites of the sort usually treated with contempt in American films. Seen from the vantage point of an outsider (Edward Clements) who has accidentally fallen in with a self-styled “rat pack” of rich kids, these metropolitans are wistfully self-aware, conscious of their privilege even as they are no longer able to sustain the displays of grandeur that justified the lives of their predecessors. Raised in a world of rituals and traditions that will soon no longer exist, they are less rebels without a cause than conformists without a future. Stillman conjures elegantly muted performances from his ensemble cast, with outstanding work from Christopher Eigeman—who carried Stillman’s vision through two more installments of his loose “doomed bourgeois in love” trilogy: Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco.