Was Audrey a “buzzkill”?

From this discussion on the character of Audrey Rouget in Whit Stillman’s movie “Metropolitan” (1990):

“I can’t speak for every guy who’s ever had a crush on an Audrey Rouget, but most of the appeal — at least the part that hooks you at the start — is her being delicate, fragile, self-conscious, and emotionally vulnerable. These trigger our protector instincts.

I wouldn’t say she had a buzzkill vibe at all: she instinctively began playful arguments, got all tingly inside when she first saw Tom, acted coy around him, and so on. She wasn’t a party girl, but she was not stable either — she had her own type of youthful volatility (“Well if Lionel Trilling thought that, he’s an idiot!”).”

Yes, I would agree that a sweet, volatile but virginal girl like that brings out your protective instinct, and eventually your possessive instinct so that you want her for your own, with the added attraction that you might eventually be the one to pop her cherry. Or, as the literary Audrey might put it, to take her maidenhead.

On the other hand, here is a comment I made before about Audrey’s style of flirting:

‘It occurred to me that Audrey is lecturing Tom. Her flirting is ineffectual. She looks the part, but her whole approach is to attempt to fit Tom into her Austen fantasy, rather than to be feminine and become what Tom wants. She makes it nearly impossible for him, and his “heroic” efforts in the end are really quite foolish, objectively. She is making him conform to her expectations constantly. I am not sure if this was intended, but even an intellectual will get tired quickly of being lectured by his girlfriend. She looks very pretty, but she never does the slightest thing to “turn him on” to her – as a woman. I used to blame Tom for the lack of energy in their courtship, but I am not so sure now.

Perhaps I “break the butterfly on the wheel”, but it is surely a film that invites serious analysis.’

Audrey is good at engaging Tom intellectually, and flirting with her mind. And Tom is a pompous young intellectual (like his rival, Charlie) so that is not a bad approach:


She does tend to correct him, though, and she has a schoolmarmish approach:

“What Jane Austen novels have you read?”

As for the physical side, she primps constantly:

– and someone has told her that plenty of red lipstick will show off her lovely colouring, with its primary contrast of dark hair and fair skin. And, in a scene where she is finally dancing in Tom’s arms, she looks blissful:


But she only gets down to the basics towards the end, when she asks Tom point blank “do you really think I am flat-chested?”. Perhaps instinctively, she is now thinking about him and his physical preferences. She has moved on to the next stage. She is still a virgin, and likely to remain a “good girl”, but she is also hinting that Tom would be getting a real woman, not just a bluestocking.

Below is a screen shot of the collected works of Jane Austen that Audrey buys during her Christmas shopping. Notice the doll. Is the director hinting that, while Austen novels are all well and good, it is also important to “put aside childish things”.



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