Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex and the City

My review of Sex and the City, the movie, appears in this week's Fast Forward Weekly!

Grown-up Sex

Carrie and Company barely miss a beat

Take one last sip of your cosmos and shout it from the skyscrapers: Welcome back, ladies!

Was it the tough talk about sex, men and the business of love that helped build the Sex and the City empire? Fans of the show know it’s a truth far more profound — friendship. The beating heart of SATC has always been the relationship between soulmates Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. Well, that and shoes.

The film opens to reveal that the years since the TV series have been kinder to some than others: Charlotte is blissfully content with her family, Samantha has forsaken New York for L.A. (and possibly herself for her boyfriend, Smith), Miranda is more cynical than ever after hitting a hard patch with Steve, and Carrie’s fairytale ending is hanging by a silk thread.

The film clocks in at a little more than two hours, so some stories, unfortunately, get shortchanged. Miranda and Steve’s storyline, while offering Cynthia Nixon a chance to do some great acting, feels forced and maligns Steve’s character permanently. Kim Cattrall brings the sex to 50-year-old Samantha, who continues to grow as she makes a tough choice. Kristin Davis shines as Charlotte, who has become the girls’ spokesperson for happiness. But it’s Sarah Jessica Parker who brings a new and very welcome depth to our flawed heroine. Carrie demurs from sharing details of her sex life with Big, stays calm even when she sees the crisis coming and makes 40 look absolutely fabulous.

The men, save for Big (the reliably charming Chris Noth), struggle for face time, but lose out to the fashion. Scene upon scene is devoted to designers and stunningly chic clothes that insist on reminding viewers again and again that Sex and the City is a trendsetter. While the eye candy is pretty, it is also distracting and deprives the audience of more moments with characters like the gay boyfriends, Stanford and Anthony, who are under-utilized here.

Ultimately, this is a film for the fans. While the opening sequence gives a beautifully brief synopsis of the ladies’ lives — complete with some of their most memorable lines — it’s unlikely that the unfolding narrative will pack as much emotional punch for those viewers going in cold. It’s great to see Carrie so happily confident in hers and Big’s love (their playful banter hasn’t dulled), or to watch Miranda’s brittle breakdown. Still, Sex and the City has always been more about the journey than the destination. The film is a fitting tribute to the question the series posed all those years ago: single and fabulous? You bet.

No comments: