Friday 19 May 2006
It doesn't seem a minute since I was queueing to see this at the old Lumière cinema on St Martin's Lane. Whit Stillman's comedy of manners was actually released 16 years ago, and it's heartening to report that time has been kind to it.
That may be partly because what it chronicles - the Manhattan deb scene - was already an anachronism back in the late 1980s. Indeed, nostalgia is central to its charm, its characters being the kind of perennial New Yorkers who'll never get over the death of F Scott Fitzgerald.
Its focus is Tom (Edward Clements), an outsider in a rented tux who, despite his socialist leanings, is adopted by a group of privileged Upper East Siders as they swan around late-night dinner parties and lament the decline of the detachable shirt collar. Tom, obsessed with reigniting the interest of an old college flame, is also attracted to Audrey (Carolyn Farina), shy and bookish like himself; both tend to defer to the group theorist Charlie (Taylor Nichols) and the debonair rogue Nick (Christopher Eigeman), who divide up between them most of the screenplay's best lines. "Our generation is probably the worst since the Protestant Reformation," observes Charlie, keenest of all the friends to hymn the romantic attraction of failure.
That's the other reason why the years haven't withered its appeal: Stillman's discreetly droll screenplay is spiked with the sort of crisp epigrams and one-liners such self-involved young people like to bandy with one another. But then they also have the confidence to stroll through wintry Manhattan nights wearing top hat and white gloves, and talk authoritatively about Jane Austen without having read a word of her.
What's very curious, 16 years later, is the unfulfilled promise of its stars - none of the cast, including Nichols and Eigeman, went on to greater things, and Stillman himself has been invisible since making his third film, The Last Days of Disco, in 1998. Watching this witty debut again is enough to make you hope he'll one day come back.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss