Chronically Metropolitan is a dramedy written by Nicholas Schutt and directed by Xavier Manrique that follows Fenton, an author returning to New York City after a three-year self-imposed exile to San Francisco. Fenton’s father, Christopher (played by the excellent Chris Noth), is a famous author who gets hospitalized after a very morally compromising car accident, thus irreparably sullying his public persona. The two writers both have a penchant for transcribing real-life events and people using the alibi of these events and people being solely fictitious. We see how this dishonest form of honesty has ruined both of their respective relationships, Fenton with his ex-girlfriend Jessie (played by Ashley Benson), and Christopher with his marriage to Fenton’s mother, Annabelle (played by the always delightful Mary-Louise Parker).
“We see how this dishonest form of honesty has ruined both of their respective relationships.”
Shiloh Fernandez does a great job as the film’s lead character. He plays a complex and moody young man desperately trying to move his career and life away from his Father’s less desirable, and more selfish proclivities. The two characters are connected as writers who take non-fiction events, exploit them for financial and critical acclaim, and then hide behind the false façade of claiming it’s all make-believe. Fenton is a classic example of a character desperately trying not to be like his father, Christopher, while simultaneously, seemingly inevitably becoming him. Fenton’s unresolved feelings for Jessie make for a complicated relationship; they both obviously care for each other, but Jessie is moving on and getting married, leaving a lot of unresolved feelings on the table between the two of them. The two actors have tremendous chemistry, and watching them work out their issues on screen is incredibly satisfying. The character of Christopher is an aloof scholarly hippie, borderline racist who is atrociously blind to how his selfish actions affect the rest of his family, especially his wife Annabelle. He’s a giant man-child, but Noth is charming enough to pull off the unenviable task of making his character undeniably likable.
“We see the ripple effect that both Fenton and Christopher’s writing has had on those they care about.”
The film explores the concept of actions coming with consequences. We see the ripple effect that both Fenton and Christopher’s writing has had on those they care about. As a writer myself, it’s a fascinating idea and something I’ve never really considered as much as I probably should have. The film is capably shot, and the cast (for the most part) does a remarkable job with their roles. Chris Noth is the standout here though; no matter what horrendous things he puts his family through he’s still easily the most amiable and warm character. The film has some great comedic moments, but they’re few and far between, instead the focus is on the characters and their individual issues. It’s mostly riveting stuff, so unnecessary humor is not needed. I couldn’t care less about the subplot between Fenton’s sister, Layla (played by actress Addison Timlin), and her boyfriend John (played by Josh Peck) though, it all seemed superfluous and unnecessary. The ending is logical, and thankfully doesn’t pull any emotional punches. Unfortunately, things between Christopher and Annabelle go fairly unresolved. There is a scene that implies the fate of their relationship, but it would have been better to get more clarity beyond what’s implied. More Mary-Louise Parker and Chris Noth is always a good thing. As a big fan of Weeds seasons one through three, it was hilarious that the first thing Parker does on screen is buy marijuana.
Generally, I enjoyed this film quite a bit. I don’t have a lot of issues with this one aside from Addison Timlin’s less than stellar acting and her character’s useless part in the story. The rest of the cast is as strong as its story and dialogue. Check out Chronically Metropolitan if you’re in the mood for an interesting drama piece.
Chronically Metropolitan (2016) Directed by: Xavier Manrique. Written by: Nicholas Schutt. Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Chris Noth, Mary-Louise Parker, Ashley Benson, Josh Peck.
8 out of 10