Metropolitan Review

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Observational drama of the tribal customs of teenaged Manhattan socialites as they party, court, philosophize and lament the decline of their class through one Christmas holiday season.


A welcome re-issue (both theatrically and on DVD) for this small, gentle first feature written and directed by a New York journalist and book editor, Whit Stillman (later giving us The Last Days of Disco), shows off his literary background to good effect while demonstrating sound cinematic instincts. Using a young, semi-professional cast, Stillman observes this group of young New York socialites with affection and wit.

Tom (Clements) is the impoverished-but-genteel type who postures as a socialist but is welcomed by the self-styled "UHBs" (urban haute-bour-geoise) to alleviate their shortage of suitable males. The heroine is Audrey (Farina), whose love of Jane Austen is amusingly reflected in the various relationships played out in Manhattan living rooms and dinner dances.

All of the set are nicely drawn, from Nick (Eigeman), the charming, manipulative leader of the group to the rake am the wordly girl who has turned the head of the hero. It's a pity that the more astringent social comedy gives way in the second half to the somewhat forces romantic nonsense of rescuing the hero from the cad.

Unusual subject matter handled with competent self-assurance.