Metropolitan is a talky dramedy about a circle of rich young Manhattanite friends (and one newcomer to their clique who’s been more on the fringes of that world but has some experience and knowledge of it) going to debutante balls and “after parties.”
I was very much prepared to dislike these people, though not necessarily thereby dislike the movie. And in the beginning, they did come across to me as arrogant, posturing, pseudo-intellectual blowhards.
But gradually I warmed to the characters moderately, the main couple (the newcomer and one of the less affected girls) as much as any.
What I appreciate about the film is it doesn’t hit you over the head with the worst aspects of the people of this social class, whether for laughs or for political or social commentary. Nor does it celebrate them or portray them as worth envying.
For that matter it also avoids the various simplistic conflicts that could have arisen with the arrival of the newcomer. The newcomer is somewhat critical of this social scene initially, but really he mostly fits with them and they mostly accept him, yet not in a way that makes it like the point of the movie is that he sells out to be with them, or realizes his critical stance was ill-informed.
The movie instead develops these characters as flawed but mostly sympathetic folks beneath all the trappings. If there’s a message to it at all, it’s maybe that people like this really aren’t all that much different from anyone else. They fall in and out of love, they worry about their futures, they display egos and try to top each other, they form friendships, they drink and try to enjoy whatever style of partying is typical of their class, they have conversations and arguments over both personal matters and intellectual matters, they have insecurities about attracting the opposite sex, etc.
So they’re not better than other people, nor are they monsters. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. (Though my impression is a fully accurate portrait would probably move a little more toward the monster end of the scale than what we see here.)
In that regard, it’s strangely like Our Song, or any movie about the underclass that seeks to show that though the precise nature of people’s good and bad points and the problems they face in life are colored by their socioeconomic class and circumstances, really they’re not all that different and scary, but are just stumbling along doing the best they can like anybody else.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting past the surface nonsense and getting people to be real. Though Metropolitan maybe takes a little artistic license and overstates the degree to which that happens in a social circle like this, I came away from it thinking I could actually spend time with these people and not hate every moment of it.
Though the dialogue is generally fairly good, the movie comes across like a filmed play at times, just a little stilted and unnatural. And while their interaction is interesting to a degree, it’s never fascinating and the movie does drag at times.
I assume people more familiar with this “old money” environment would connect a little better with these characters and pick up on certain nuances that I missed. Still, I’m left with a mildly favorable feeling about the characters and the movie itself.