Whatever happened to Whit Stillman? His fond, funny comedies of manners made him American-indie royalty in the ’90s, until his third film, 1998’s The Last Days Of Disco, seemed to yank the needle off his career.
This re-release of his dry, wry 1990 feature debut proves Stillman’s worth. On a crisp and dry talk-track, the director modestly describes it as “social pornography”, which is about right. It’s a class-divide love story, essentially, about principled toff-hater Tom (Edward Clements), who falls for the Jane Austen-obsessed Manhattan graduate Audrey (Carolyn Farina).
Much talk follows, tightly focused in the theme of romanticism vs realism and centred on a timeless tale of transitional youth. Think Dazed And Confused for debs, with all the warmth of that school’s-out classic ably conveyed by a cast whose subsequent careers should’ve glittered like the settings here. Ditto their director. With any justice, this re-release will aid Stillman’s overdue return.