on April 09, 1999 by Susan Green
   Who says a mid-life crisis has to wait till mid-life? For a thirtysomething family man named Chris (Christian Bale), doubts about domesticity surface when a footloose school chum (Lee Ross, a Denis Leary look-alike) shows up one day in 1977. Tempted by memories of Youth--including that time in Paris with a passionate French girlfriend (Elsa Zylberstein)--Chris suddenly feels alienated from his pleasant married life with Marion (Emily Watson) in a London suburb.
   Director Philip Saville has crafted a delightfully bittersweet story, based on a 1980 novel by Julian Barnes, that taps into a kind of universal nostalgia. Scenes from the swinging '60s, particularly those that evoke the Beatles' ebullient train ride in "A Hard Day's Night," give "Metroland" an exhilarating baby-boomer kick. With Bale ("Little Women") at his best and Watson effectively reeling in her mug-for-the-camera mannerisms from "Breaking the Waves," this is a thoroughly satisfying little film with an exquisite Mark Knopfler score.    Starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Lee Ross and Elsa Zylberstein. Directed by Philip Saville. Written by Adrian Hodges. Produced by Andrew Bendel. A Lions Gate release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 99 min.
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