A group of young Manhattanites, good friends getting swept up in the debutant season, find their small little hoity-toity world fractured when an outsider comes into their midst stirring things up.
As descriptions go, that one for Whit Stillman’s sparkling 1990 debut Metropolitan hardly serves the film any sort of justice. The movie is far more complex, much more intimate than that small little sentence would even passingly suggest. For those raised on the surrealistic gaudy giddy excess of “Gossip Girl” and the like, Stillman’s literate expose is as polished and as refined as they come. At the same time, the sinisterly witty dénouement of it all gets under your skin in a way hard that’s hard to describe, the movie a shockingly nasty piece of work that exposes plenty while also reveling in all of its characters’ personal and familial excesses.
Is it the best entry into Stillman’s world? Maybe not. The pitter-patter of the dialogue takes some getting used to, and, considering most of us don’t exactly run in the same circles as the protagonists, their financial largess does make them difficult to relate to. Yet, at the same time, the filmmaker does a wonderful job of bringing these characters down to earth, taking them off of their lofty perch bringing them to the same level the rest of us reside upon. These are things anyone can fantasize about and relate to, and as such many of the pitch-black zingers and sarcastically fetishistic gags have a lot more teeth than they would have otherwise.
As bouncy as it all can feel, as light as the touch might be, do not mistake, Stillman’s world is full of knives and isn’t slightly afraid of shedding a bit of (metaphorical) blood. It bounces and bobs and weaves with delectable ease, each character twisting and turning, delicately transforming from what they believe themselves to be into an entirely different sort of creature they never could have imagined becoming before the night began. Make no mistake, Metropolitan is close to a masterpiece, easily one of the great achievements the entire decade of the 1990’s gloriously had to offer.
Metropolitan is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.66:1/1080p transfer. As stated in the included booklet: “Supervised by director Whit Stillman and cinematographer John Thomas, this high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm blow-up interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed used MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Image System’s DVNR was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.”
Metropolitan comes to Blu-ray in English LPCM Mono and includes optional English subtitles. Again, from the included booklet: “The original monaural soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic audio track. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.”
Extras here are ported over and include:
· Audio commentary with director Whit Stillman, editor Christopher Tellefsen, and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols
· Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
· Alternate Casting
The Blu-ray also comes with a 6-page Illustrated Booklet featuring an essay by author and film scholar Luc Sante.
Metropolitan is awesome, arguably still Whit Stillman’s best film (if also just as arguably his least accessible on some levels). Criterion’s Blu-ray is strong, but the image presented certainly won’t be for everyone, the high levels of grain giving the picture a retro look some might not be able to fully embrace. Certainly worthy of a watch, and highly recommended for Stillman fans, this disc still should be watched once before any final decision is made before someone decided to add the film to their personal libraries.