Film Review: Sex And The City 2

Directed by: Michael Patrick King

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon

Last week, on my way home late at night, an alien spaceship landed in front of me and the alien life form which emerged asked me directions to the nearest cinema as “it” was desperate to catch a preview screening on Sex And The City 2 before heading back into space. OK, so that is a total lie (that I was on my way home late at night) but with the amount of publicity SATC 2 has garnered, one would not be surprised if our friends from the galaxy wanted to be “carried” away too.With a PR blitzkrieg greater than the General Election (there was probably more places telling us to see the film than to vote – hmmm) I managed to avoid all the trailers and clips on nearly every sort of show (including shutting my eyes in the cinema when the trailer played and earning an approving glance from a couple seated in the same row as me – haters!) there was a sense of relief as I settled down to an afternoon screening in a relatively quiet suburban cinema…

Still, it seems no screening is free of the screaming/whooping/aahing type of viewer but thankfully after a loudly whispered yay when the BBFC certificate came up, the trio of girls (who had to finish each other’s sentences, like, every time) were relatively quiet throughout the film – what was inexcusable was my own reaction of laughing out loudly at Miranda’s attempts at Arabic, cussing the on screen action loudly and making jokes with my companion. Well, you can take the boy out of Bollywood…

SATC 2 comes armed with expectations and moves on two years from where the previous big screen outing left off with Carrie two years into her marriage with Big, Charlotte dealing with her two children, Miranda facing blatant discrimination at work and Samantha trying to fight off ageing and menopause. Throw in a trip to Abu Dhabi and you have Manhattan maidens in the Middle East. Blend generously with plenty of gloss and fashion and you have SATC 2.

To be fair, the initial concept behind the film is an interesting one; what happens when you put Carrie and co in a place where their daily actions are the opposite of what is considered to be acceptable social behaviour? Are they really liberated women or oppressed in a different way? Unfortunately, the film fails to realise the potential of this premise in what would have been an interesting culture clash and one that would have sat nicely with the tone of the show. Exploring this concept would have given the film the depth and soul that is desperately needs as well as make the film more accessible for those who aren’t entirely familiar with SATC.

As a fan of the show, I was in a more forgiving mood and was prepared to overlook the awkward transition from television to film as well as some of the more self indulgent storylines (Stanford and Anthony – really?). I did wish at times the screenplay had been tighter and given the characters equal screen time (a gripe I had with the first film) and I also wasn’t too keen on the superiority complex the film seemed to have over Arab culture – sometimes, one did wish a more balanced viewpoint could have been promoted throughout. One of the great things about the series was its ability to explore situations in a way that did not come off contrived or patronising but instead struck a realistic chord; at times it seems SATC 2 manages to pull this off but at other times, like a mismatched accessory with the wrong outfit, it hinders the capability of the film.

Speaking of outfits and accessories, the film is a fashionista wet dream with the idea of dress up/make-believe taken to awesome new heights. I must be the only person who thought Carrie looked dreadful in the tuxedo at Stanford’s wedding – whilst I loved the idea behind it, it made SJP look dreadful. Thankfully, she more than makes up for it with that gorgeous white Halston dress in the credit sequence (BTW – anyone else glad that 80’s flashback was short and sweet?),  the skinny ripped jeans and glitter blouse in the karaoke scene, the chiffon top with skinny trousers in the desert and of course, the old man’s blazer over the dress for the date with Aiden (though I wish the blazer had the sleeves folded up or something…). I also loved Samantha’s Ralph Lauren gold sequin harem pants at the airport arrival scene, Miranda’s black and silver stud dress at Stanford’s wedding and Charlotte’s blue dress in the confession scene.

It did feel like the interiors overpowered the fashion at times with Carrie’s apartment with Big and her old apartment all pimped out and looking like something out of *Wallpaper. But this is perhaps to the credit of the styling that it doesn’t overwhelm like it did in the previous film and has far more subtle trends as well as obvious ones (though if I see anyone dressed like Carrie dresses for the souk where she meets Aiden in Dior tee, tiered skirt and funky jacket, I will cuss them down, no hesitation!)

In terms of performances, the central cast all reprise their roles well with no one letting the side down. I have a shock confession – I can’t stand the character of Carrie; yes she has a cool wardrobe, a cool job and a cool apartment but I did feel very sorry for Big at certain points in the film. I really found her irritating in some parts of the film but strangely, for me, this means SJP was doing a great job – she makes Carrie a three dimensional and believable person (reminding me of some girls I know!) and gives a strong core performance for the rest of the film to work around. Kim Cattrall continues having fun as Samantha, playing to the front benchers (a Bollywood term – they make the most noise in a cinema) and giving an energetic performance. I liked Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon in the confession scene and wish they had more to do in the film. Chris Noth and John Corbett phone it in as Big and Aiden respectively as do David Eigenberg and Evan Handler as Steve and Harry. Out of the supporting cast, I thought Raza Jaffrey played his role in an understated manner that worked perfectly and again, I wish we had seen a bit more of Art Malik and Omid Djalili as no doubt, it would have been interesting to see their characters and talents in this glamorous of set ups.

SATC 2 is an entertaining film and fans of the show will love it – I have to confess that despite my reservations, I did enjoy the film and will definitely be seeing it again when I get the chance – once the hype and excitement settles, I think a very different film will emerge on the second viewing. For non-fans, there is little to see here and no doubt, much of the negative feedback is coming from those who don’t understand or particularly like the show. I do feel there is perhaps one more film left before the franchise shuts up shop for good and exhausts our goodwill – the strength and weakness of SATC has in abundance is that there will never be an ending that will befit the show and give the characters and the audience the closure needed. But let’s save the heavy analysis for another time – this is one summer movie to sit back and enjoy the ride without too much thought. In short(s), get “carried” away…

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