Metroland (1997)

Christian Bale, Lee Ross, Emily Watson, Elsa Zylberstein,
The sudden reappearance of his best friend Toni, after a ten year absence, causes Chris to remember his past, to question some of his lifestyle decisions and to re-evaluate his life and marriage to Marion.
  • 6.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Julian Barnes, Adrian Hodges, Writer:
  • Philip Saville, Director:
  • Andrew Bendel, Producer:
7 / 10

Take the train

"Metroland" Christian Bale stars as Chris, a 30 year old man who must reexamine his priorities and life choices once an old friend(Lee Ross) comes back into his life. The friend criticizes Chris on the lack of excitement in his life and urges him to leave his wife Marion (Emily Watson) and travel the world. As enticing the dramatic possibilities seem with this plot, "Metroland" takes all the expectations one might have and tries something new. It's a character piece, headlined with a smashing performance by Bale. It's also funny, bright, and deeply introspective. The plot takes us on a tour of Chris's past. A past that included a stay in Paris with a beautiful native. The woman teaches Chris the ways of love and bohemian lifestyle, a lifestyle Chris has always wanted. The section takes up about half of the film, and is the film's strongest suit. We see the very English Chris try to pass himself off as a Parisian and curse at other Brits, he also loses his virginity is a grandly comical scene. The other half of the film deals with Chris trying to justify his lack of shame in his calm, predictable life. Veteran director Philip Saville does a good job making sure the audience never loses faith in Chris. It could have been real easy to drag the film through a series of lame dramatics, but Saville gives realistic answers to realistic questions.

There are a lot of pluses in "Metroland". It's well written, sharply shot with a good eye for detail, and everybody out there knows how I feel about the brilliant Emily Watson. What I liked best, and this might seem weird, but with all the grotesque nudity in such films as "Go" and "He Got Game", "Metroland" is refreshingly blunt. There is a lot of bodies on display here, but in a very natural and - dare I say - beautiful way. It's not thrown in your face. It just is. This is a good movie that relies on a soft, steady narrative than a hyped, antsy one.------------- 8

10 / 10

A great subtle movie with a great little message that everyone takes for granted

The main character in Metroland embodies the crisis that every one of us has already or will probably go through. "Have we made the right choices in our lives to make ourselves happy?".

The movie portrays this character's search for the answers through flashbacks to his past as well as new events that are occurring in his present. The two paths that he could have taken were shown. He begins questioning if he had made the right choice with his current life. A life which he thought he would never want when he was younger and rebellious. The "9 to 5" job that we, or at least some of us, have all dreaded in fear of the death of our own creativity and individualism. The main male character basically is the imperfect hero with imperfect thoughts, much akin to the "hero" that we can hope to be at this day and age.

The last line in the movie, "If not now, then, never." is a line we always hear but take its meaning for granted. Truly, if happiness is not found in the moment..in the "now"..then, where else can it ever be?

7 / 10

Baby Boomers Attractively Wallowing in Regrets and Good Music

"Metroland" should appeal to boomers, particularly ones who now find themselves in the suburbs and/or with families. (It did not appeal to the two senior citizen couples next to and in back of me who did not shut up throughout the whole movie as they didn't seem to grasp the concepts of flashbacks or fantasy images)

I'm sure there's other movies that have a friend and/or sibling interfering in a stable relationship and shaking the tree (my friend thought of "Hilary and Jackie"-- but maybe because both have Emily Watson, here bundled up in sweaters to try and make her less ravishing) but I couldn't think of one that deals with our time period of post-'60's measurements of personal happiness and fulfillment. We could relate to the English and Parisian experiences with parallel ones here from the same time periods of '68 vs. '78 (nicely accurate hair styles, make-up and clothes).

While there are no shortage of shots of gorgeous naked women, there's ironic visual comment regardless the lead character's lovemaking techniques don't improve over the decade of experience. One sees plenty of Christian Bale, such that I think it would, I imagine, appeal to gay men as well.

Nice use of punk music (freaking out the senior next to me!), otherwise the score was quite lovely by Mark Knopfler, with a closing song original to the movie, with apropos lyrics.

(originally written 4/17/1999)

10 / 10

Witty, thoughtful and funny...

I agree with all the posts about what this movie was about -- a man evaluating his present life. But what made this film so good to me was the fantastic acting by Christian Bale and Emily Watson who portrayed their characters so authentically. As a 30 yo single woman myself, the relationships portrayed in this movie came off in a genuine way. What it's like to be married for nearly 10 years and how to preserve the love in the relationship and yet deal w/ the tensions and problems from it. All of this was portrayed subtly, sensitively, and with humour at many times throughout this movie in a natural and unforced way. I credit this to Christian Bale and Emily Watson's acting abilities and the Director's talent. To me, underlying the mid-life crisis of one man in this movie is the theme of "relationship" and how he gets his life from them. Whether it's with his wife, girlfriend or best friend from childhood. I really thought everything about this moview was excellent: script, acting, directing, scenes. More than that, it captured the subtle nuances and emotions shared between people which wasn't stated in words but one "felt" as a viewer that one knew what that look meant or the silent treatment was for. It's now my favorite top 10 movies in my book.

8 / 10

No, it's not. It's eight pints of lager with an erection.

This film adapted from a novel by one of England's best writers, Julian Barnes, was a story to anyone who has been married for a while. Set mainly during 1977, the drama focuses on Chris (Christian Bale) and Tony (Lee Ross), who grew up together in suburban England a decade earlier.

Chris is now happily married to Marion (Emily Watson) and has a baby daughter. Tony has never settled down. A surprise visit from his childhood friend causes Chris to reassess his present life and to remember his days working in Paris; there he lived with Annick (Elsa Zylberstein), a young, liberated French woman, before he fell in love with Marion.

Bale and Watson were superb in this film. He fantasizes about how his life would have been had he not gotten married. Tony is trying to convince him to give it all up, and Marion is trying to save her marriage.

There is a lot of nudity and sex, but none is gratuitous. It all adds to the story and , at times, is funny, especially when he was new at sex in Paris.

The most interesting part of the film consists of two related scenes. he tells Tony that he is "content." Maybe that is the best you can hope for from an Englishman. His wife asks later if he is "happy." he says, "If not now, never." That is certainly, to me at least, not a ringing endorsement. Maybe again, it is particularly English.

The film was very enjoyable, and the only criticism I would have is the graininess in the middle. I am beginning to like Bale more and more.