Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Metropolitan Midwestern Woman


Did anyone read Isabel Gillies’ piece in the current Vogue? It’s about, in part, how her cad of a husband, a poetry professor, took her to a small Midwestern college (it’s easy to find out which one, if you have even the tiniest sleuthing gene) and then dropped her for his Audrey Hepburn-esque colleague.

Gillies returned to her well-heeled, well-connected parents and to their apartment in New York with her two young sons in tow. She picked up the pieces of her life, eventually remarrying and becoming friends with her ex-husband.

Although Gillies explains how lovely her life was in the Midwestern town (a historic house! a “tangle of rosebushes”! William Morris wallpaper!), there’s also an implicit suggestion that her return to the City is triumphant (even though she was in defeat).

For Gillies, if you recall, was one of the young actresses who starred in Whit Stillman’s classic little movie Metropolitan (1990), about a posse of East Side preppy youngsters—and one from the other side of town—who were going to the winter debutante balls in New York.

I loved Metropolitan for its talkiness, its commentary on being literate (why read Jane Austen when you can read lit crit about the novel?), its mix of terrific actors (Chris Eigeman especially) with OK ones, and for its glimpse into a certain way of life. (My favorite scene involves the aging preppy at the bar, bowtie and floppy forelock both in place.)

Metropolitan is now available on the Criterion collection, if you’d like to check it out. It makes for cozy watching during the winter and offers a terrific opening for cultural critique.

And for the record, I think that Gillies knows that she is more Metropolitan than Midwestern.

10 comments:

WendyB said...

Oh my God! Metropolitan! I always think of it around the holidays.

K.Line said...

I did read it, with fascination! But I have to say, what sticks with me is that she's a woman who never picked up the pieces of her independence - she went to her parents, then met another man and in no time flat ended up married to him, with the implication being that now he foots the bills. It doesn't seem very emancipated to me.

But I think it's amazing she can be friends with the guy after he humiliated and rejected her. I mean, it wasn't just a dalliance. He up and left her and he's still with the other woman.

miss cavendish said...

You two are so FAASST!

And what Gillies also doesn't say is that her ex is on his *third* marriage (to the Audrey philosopher). So his track record is not so promising. But maybe I'm being too judgmental here.

hmstrjam said...

hello i read the article only yesterday, well written! Did you also read about Tom Campbell- the new director of the Met? SOunds like good stuff!

miss cavendish said...

Ahh--the "Met" strikes twice! I did read about the new director and will be interested to learn what he does . . .

Belle de Ville said...

It has been years since I've seen Metropolitian. Has Whit Stillman made another movie since then?

As for the Vogue article. Men cheat, women move on, enough said.

On the topic of men and women,do you read
Womanofexperience.blogspot.com?

It is an extremely well written blog.

miss cavendish said...

Belle, I've seen Whit Stillman's "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco." I don't recall if he's made another . . .

I am not familiar with the blog you mention, but will check it out. Thanks!

Sal said...

I'm curious to check this out. Especially as someone who rankles at the idea that the Midwest is inferior and a place to be fled.

Mary-Laure said...

Oh I MUST get my hands on that movie.

enc said...

I read that piece, but I haven't seen "Metropolitan." I think I want to now.