1997 ~ Metroland (as Chris)

Actors Christian Bale, Lee Ross, Emily Watson, Elsa Zylberstein, John Wood Directors Philip Saville
Writers Adrian Hodges, Julian Barnes
Producers Adrian Hodges, Andrew Bendel, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Enrique Posner, François-Xavier Decraene
Language English
Studio Universal Studios
Run time 101 minutes

Info & Plot

Bale plays Chris, young married professional living an ordinary life in the suburbs of London in the late 1970s. Although he still loves his wife, Marion, (Emily Watson) Chris still experiences boredom. A visit from an old friend, the carefree Toni, (Lee Ross) causes Chris to re-evaluate his life and to recall his time spent in Paris ten years before where he lived with an exciting French woman Annick (Elsa Zylberstein) and dreamed of becoming a photographer. Chris considers having sex with another woman at a party, until he discovers that Toni has arranged it for him in attempt to draw Chris out of his complacency. When Marion, who has herself resisted sexual advances from Toni, points out to Chris that Toni is actually jealous of all that Chris has, Chris realises that although his life may lack perpetual excitement he has made the right decisions and is content.

The film explores the tension between the youthful idealism of a hedonistic existence and that of the inevitable middle-class establishment. ‘Metroland’ refers to the London suburbs which are served by the expansive Underground network, an environment that Chris and Toni had always promised themselves they would escape. The narrative format is largely the flashback, with extended portions showing Chris as a 21 year old living in Paris.

The primary difference between this film and the 1980 novel Metroland on which it is based is the narrative structure: the book proceeds chronologically from Chris’ youth to the early years of his marriage whereas the film uses flashbacks to his time in Paris. In the book Chris is a graduate student while in Paris, and has no interest in photography. Finally, in the book Chris’ encounter with another woman at a party was not arranged by Toni, nor is there any indication that Toni has made a pass at Chris’ wife Marion. Much of the dialogue from the book is preserved in the film.