Saturday, March 5, 2011

Metropolitan (1990)


The film Metropolitan is a very loose modern adaptation of Austen’s Mansfield Park. A group of upper class debutantes from Manhattan meet each night during the winter break of their first year of college. They attend balls, talk about philosophical topics, play card games, and discuss other ideas, such as social mobility. The main characters are Audrey, who is timid and eager to please; Tom, who is of a lower class and joins the group randomly one night, when they need another male escort for a ball, and who later becomes a love interest for Audrey; Nick, who is cynical and helps Tom become accustomed to their style of life; Sally and Cynthia, who are similar to the Bertram sisters in their way of superior high-class living; Jane, who is Audrey’s best friend; Fred, who is like Thomas Bertram in his alcoholic ways; Charlie, who likes Audrey and often starts philosophical discussions; and Serena, who captures Tom’s attention from the beginning, and is similar to Mary Crawford in her treatment of men.

The characters of Metropolitan cannot be easily defined as the same as those in Mansfield Park. Audrey can generally be seen as Fanny Price, however, Tom is the outsider who joins the group last from a poorer neighborhood, indicating that although a number of the key points of Mansfield Park are present, some of the roles are switched around. Tom is like Edmund, with his support and eventual love for Audrey (Fanny), but being initially attracted to Serena (Mary Crawford). Nick can be viewed as Henry Crawford, as he is very charming to the women in the movie, but Charlie’s crush on Audrey is similar to the part of Henry that loved Fanny. Serena is seen as Mary Crawford in how she pulls Tom in, but she is never part of their group, and so the ‘friend’ portion of Mary Crawford is displayed in Jane’s supportive behavior towards Audrey.

The characters spend the movie attending balls and gathering in the apartment of one of the girls until all hours of the night. The plot and characters are not the same as Mansfield Park, although their dynamics do change once Tom joins the group with his different perspectives on life. At several points, they actually discuss the novel Mansfield Park and Tom brings up the criticisms of Lionel Trilling, which he argues for, even though he has not read the actual book. They talk about Fanny as a character being unlikeable, but Audrey, a big Jane Austen fan, quickly defends her, saying she likes Fanny, which may have to do with the fact that their personalities are very similar. By the end of the movie, their group dynamics have changed, similar as to what occurred in Mansfield Park as the story progressed and the characters formed new or different relationships. Overall, the movie was much more discussion based, without a real point to the story, and the relationships between the characters were very different than in the novel. As an adaptation of Mansfield Park, Metropolitan had some very basic similarities, but in the end, the differences were far more prevalent.

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