American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Whit Stillman's "Barcelona" is a reminder that there is a broad strata of American society that goes all but ignored by the movies.
His subjects are smart, intense but somewhat naive white-collar workers, young men in their 20s and early 30s, who wear suits and ties to work and are very serious about themselves and still try, self-consciously, to talk in a way that might sound impressive at an undergraduate management seminar. Stillman brings great wit and wicked humor to his subjects, but he doesn't make fun of them - he likes them.
In "Metropolitan" (1990), his first film, he showed this generation in its embryo stage, as Park Avenue preppies. Now he shows them in their first jobs. The time is the early 1980s. The place is Barcelona, where Ted Boynton (Taylor Nichols) is the Spanish representative for a Chicago firm that makes electric engines.
Ted is earnest and ambitious and has room within his heart for a vast yearning which can only be filled by a girl. But not a pretty girl. He has determined, after several unhappy experiences, to have nothing more to do with beautiful women. He tris to explain this to a young woman (neither pretty nor plain) who he has met at a party: Beautiful women make an observation about a man, and use it to ridicule him, "as if impertinence were cute and charming." A plainer woman, on the other hand, "would be more apt to use observation for comprehension..." He talks that way a lot, as if reciting from term papers.