Enjoy a “Cosmopolitans,” on me


Amazon Studios

The titular Cosomopolitans

Whit Stillman gets down to the bare, naked, nymphish seduction of the romantic in “The Cosmopolitans.” It’s a mystery series — the mystery is the absurd clueless mystery that is romance.

Who’s Whit Stillman?  He’s the proto-Wes Anderson – that’s Wes Anderson of “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”; most recently, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”  Anderson’s first movie came out in 1997, inspired by Stillman.  Stillman’s first came out in 1990, “Metropolitan.”  Like Anderson’s, Stillman’s characters don’t say sentences but the sentences between sentences, the truths that society mutes between the period and the double-space.

Here are some examples, from “The Cosmopolitans.”  When Adriano Giannini’s Italian calls Adam “Seth Cohen” Brody’s character a “whiner,” and tells him that women don’t like whiners, Brody turns to the nearest woman, played by Carrie MacLemore, and says:

“Is that true?”


“Do women hate whiners?”

“No.”  She pauses.  “Actually, I think I’m perversely attracted to them.”

“That is perverse,” says the Italian.

“Yes,” she agrees.  “I think it is.”

You might imagine irony in this scene. I would imagine the shameless, sardonic self-consciousness flaunted in so many hip indie movies. But in fact there’s neither.  It comes as pure, simple, and as true as from the mouth of babes – which is, in fact, where it’s coming from.  Carrie MacLemore’s a babe.  Don’t tell her I said so.  She has an enchanting kind of princessian fragility and kindness, without that icky virginity the Puritans required.  (She was also in Stillman’s last film, “Damsels in Distress” (2011), his first film in 13 years.)

Now what’s all this about romance?  “The Cosmpolitans” wonders, amused: Why do we associate whiskey with a dusty dim-lit Southern bar, where it’s knocked back by a barrel-bellied bearded and dirty trucker, and wine, du vin, with twenty-something skinny love, or fifty-something re-discovered love on the balcony as if it had simply gotten lost on the way home, with twinkling city lights and boats on the river in the background?  Was it Audrey Hepburn?  (Her silver image wafts through “The Cosmopolitans,” too, like projected smoke.)

The premise revolves around American ex-patriates: Adam Brody’s easygoing character (the flip-side of Seth Cohen, his adored neurotic from “The OC”), the wise and dark Italian Adriano Giannini, the wonderfully artless Jordan Rountree, Chloe Sevigny’s cool journalist, and of course MacLemore’s character, Aubrey – “Isn’t that a boy’s name?” a smooth Frenchman inquires.  “Yes.  Sometimes,” she smiles, then walks off – who has just been suddenly dumped by the loser Frenchman who whisked her away to Paris after picking her up in Miami.

It’s just that simple: they are lost, they are lonely, they are heartbroken, they’re in Paris, and most importantly, their eyes are as open and their mouths as honest as children’s.  This is Stillman’s gift: he scrubs all the world of its filth in the moment before the fade in without removing a detail.  There is drug-dealing, there is sexual betrayal, there is violence and war, there is destitution of all kinds, but he somehow has taken off our egos like jackets at the door.  Without them, it is astonishing, the magic of our world.

This is why you should watch “The Cosmopolitans,” currently just a 24-minute pilot on Amazon Studios (which you can access either online or through your Blu-Ray player).  If it receives enough positive feedback, and enough views, it will be greenlit to series.  Basically, it is the first episode of a TV show that’s yet to be continued.  But my god, the high at its end as we long for the continuation, so drunk on the infinite magic of our world we forget those egos, hung up beside the screen.