Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sex and the City and me

After two weeks of tortuous waiting and half an hour of more tortuous adverts and trailers (why advertise so many cars before the ultimate chick flick), the plinky-plink of the Sex and the City theme tune started and my mind slipped (largely) into neutral. It stayed there most of the time, but did it ever have fun.

All the criticisms made by people who want to treat the film as a serious exercise in cinema are valid. Yes, its morality is vapid. Yes, there are more labels than in Topshop's factories. Yes, it does feel like five episodes tacked together. But yes yes yes, it is fabulous, and isn't that really what's important here? If you want 'satire' on fashion, watch Robert Altman's unwatchable Prêt à Porter.

The cast are all back, with public problems of catfights and pay gaps sufficiently submerged under an awe-inspiring wardrobe (as indeed is the one Big builds for Carrie). To the left is Sarah Jessica Parker in a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress, plus exotic cockatoo sur la tete. Characters are still delineated by clothes: Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is fierce in primary colour, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) does virginal chic, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) seems to have been clothed largely by GAP casuals.

It is this simplicity of approach which largely prevents any particular complications evolving, other than the obvious ones. Someone is going to cheat on someone, someone will have commitment issues. The only interesting plotline is Samantha's, because she has always been the one with hidden depths and a great range of sensitivity, which is the more affecting for its few appearances.

I felt sorry for Cynthia Nixon, since she was taken back to her early, inconsiderate, over-businesslike persona just to have her shaken out of it. Since the show ended with her as a forgiving, more selfless woman, her cruelty (and it is quite cruel) is a straw (wo)man.

You have to hope that the actresses enjoyed making the movie, since it gives them lustre but fails to develop or explore their personalities as the six-year series allowed. Indeed, writer and director Michael Patrick King seems to glory in (inadvertently?) parodying his characters - when Samantha surprises the girls with not one but (gasp!) two bottles of champagne, you get the sense that someone is being mocked.

There are a few laugh-out-loud lines, even fewer of which are as smart as in the series, but there is plenty of fun to be had gliding over the surface of Louis Vuitton handbags.

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