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Worth A Look78.95%
Average: 15.79%
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Total Crap: 5.26%

2 reviews, 7 user ratings

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by iF Magazine

"I don't want all that relationship shit. I just want to fuck."
4 stars

A livelier, better told SECRETS & LIES, with a shot of THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN, METROLAND features a sharp nonlinear storyline. Standard Euro-flick nookie, nudity and soul-searching ensue. The hook is watching a guy who seems determined to lead an unconventional life, knowing he won't -- or will he? Metroland's not a place…it's a state of mind," he's told by a mysterious Retired Commuter(John Wood). "You're not original enough to get out." The audience is kept guessing.

After the initial navel-gazing, METROLAND pulls some punches: The Road Not Taken. The One that Got Away. Brit Chris Lloyd (Christian Bale) is a restless yuppie in 1977 with a wife Marion (Emily Watson), kid, and bad case of nostalgia for his lost youth. Raised in Metroland, the suburban sprawl at the end of London's rail line, he and his male pal Toni (Lee Ross) had planned on escaping. Chris went to Paris to be a photographer; Toni went everywhere. Ten years later, Chris is back in Metroland and when Toni returns he thinks Chris has become his dad. Chris panics and starts constantly fantasizing about his hot French ex, Annick (Elsa Zylberstein).

Director Philip Saville (LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE-DEVIL) has made an intimate, artful movie, despite the slow start. The tight frames have a kaleidoscopic feel, like looking in a box of old photos. Chris' time with Annick is shot in diffused red and gold,s cenes with Marion/ England snap to grey. Mark Knopfler's quirky Franco-Brit score adds without distracting, as in using his own "Sultans of Swing" (from his Dire Straits days)in a bar scene where Toni brags about "non-monogamy."

The usually bland Bale plays Chris with a slightly nebbishly,tense quality. It works. He's got our sympathy, but that's about it. Watson shines as always with her wide blue eyes and knowing smirk. Hey,and she even does a turn at finally playing a sane character. Lee Ross (SECRETS & LIES, THE ENGLISH PATIENT) brings a gritty energy to Toni but the trouble is he's an asshole. Can't Chris see right through him?

Elsa Zylberstein is the real find. She's warm,sexy,emotional -- the embodiment of the uninhibited French girlfriend (shades of BETTY BLUE). It's hard to imagine why sexed-up Chris would ever leave her -- another good hook. Velvet-voiced vet John Wood leaves the creeps as the Retired Commuter. Oddball Rufus (DELICATESSEN) hits as Henri,Chris' Parisian boss, telling him to avoid women at all costs while dismembering sausages. Amanda Ryan is stunning as a '70's swinger: "I don't want all that relationship shit. I just want to fuck."

METROLAND is at its best reflecting ordinary people and choices. Based on Julian Barnes' novel of the same name, Saville, producer Andrew Bendel and screenwriter Adrian Hodges say it's about their own lives. Saville set out to make a "simple, entertaining film" and basically succeeded.

It may not change cinema, but for a date movie or an early midlife crisis, METROLAND may be just the ticket. ---Etana Jacobson - iF Magazine (

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originally posted: 09/20/99 03:19:46
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User Comments

11/26/03 Damien Personally I would have chosen Joanna[Amanda Ryan] 4 stars
2/21/02 Tomper I cried when Chris married Marion; Annick is hot and Marion is not. 4 stars
5/05/00 Tay Zi Dong, Patrick Above average 4 stars
9/20/99 Weird Andy I'm so very full of...ennui. 3 stars
4/26/99 Mr Showbiz A sloppy, but charming, essay on British non-conformism. 3 stars
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  09-Apr-1999 (R)
  DVD: 22-Jul-2003



Directed by
  Phillip Saville

Written by
  Adrian Hodges

  Christian Bale
  Lee Ross
  Elsa Zylberstein
  Johnathon Aris

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