A superbly droll, mannered complement to his breakthrough first feature, Metropolitan, Whit Stillman's sophomore effort pushes the director's narrative scope and sense of style forward as it retains his pitch-perfect gift for neurotic, intellectual -- some may say endearingly uptight -- dialogue. Stillman regular Chris Eigeman was the standout among the cast of the first film, and the director has justly allowed him to all but walk away with this picture. Though the narrative bites off a little more than it can chew -- including anti-American terrorism, the mores of the waning sexual revolution, and heady business theory -- Stillman smartly chooses the relationship between Eigeman's arrogant Navy lieutenant Fred and his constipated cousin Ted (Taylor Nichols) as the film's center. To complain that Barcelona's political ideals are too conservative would be to discount Stillman as a satirist -- however sympathetic -- of young urban professionals of the '80s; a more valid complaint is that he does give short shrift to many of film's female characters. Still, Barcelona is a far more visually assured film than the director's debut, and that as well as his deft juggling of light and serious themes would be put to even better use in Stillman's next film, The Last Days of Disco.
by Michael Hastings review