A great opportunity to say something significant about women and age is completely lost. We may grow older and think about the changes that brings. Yet Carrie, Samantha, Charlote and Miranda decide to play on, as if they were in their 20s. Our four leading ladies, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon all permit childish scriptwiters to keep them stuck, just beyond puberty and frozen forever in time.
The clothes, shoes and housing are all just great. It’s pretty, in its distinctive and televisual way. Yet there is something rotten at the heart of this, the latest installment in Darren Star’s extended tale of four gals loose in New York. That something is a dead soul, sucking up life and spitting it out and mistaking boredom for character and depth.
It’s two years since Carrie’s wedding to Big. He isn’t living up to his part in the ideal marriage because – wait for it – he wants to watch a little TV and eat at home, occasionally. I don’t think these are grounds for divorce, even if the most extreme of feminist and imaginary states.
The other three girls – these are not women – suffer ennui for different reasons, all bathed in New York luxury. Salvation from all this imaginary evil is at hand, in the form of Samantha’s 5-star freebie to the Middle East. So all four gals go off, leaving capable nannies in charge of Charlotte and Miranda’s kiddies and allowing Carrie and Samatha to be their utterly annoying selves.
This is when this unbelievably long movie – 148 minutes – goes wrong. The early scenes, with a happy gay wedding and Liza Minnelli hit the right tone. We know what to expect from this franchise and it’s good fun. As soon as the gals are abroad, it all goes horribly wrong.
I really liked the first movie. Being back in the Stratford Picture House, after a brief stint of being unfaithful with other cinemas, was wonderful. It is always like coming home and I would rather see something dreadful here than something wonderful elsewhere. I was in a packed house with good company, although the man with me was one of only four in the total audience. The “Sex and the City” franchise has no place for boys, except as accessories.
Morocco, stepping in for Abu Dhabi, looks just fine. But this tale of Americans believing they can do whatever they want wherever they are offers an eerie metaphor for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are people who believe they can do as they please and force their cultural beliefs on others. This is just too much, given recent history. We know the deadly results and the the numbers of disabled orphans that idea causes. No country has ever won on this level of invasion, yet the belief that all that is American and rich is best pervades the whole movie.
I am not anti-American. I love New York and I believe America is the greatest and freest democracy in the world. But is this really about the concept that freedom is about expensive shoes? Have we not grown a little more than that? On the basis on this movie, we haven’t and I feel beyond sad that this vision of “freedom” may represent America to many people.
It’s not as terrible a movie as some friends suggested it was. It’s glossy and slick and it has solid production values. The sex is gymnastic rather than erotic. The shopping is all a little frenetic and hopeful of putting consumerism where value should be. But for me, it was depressing. And that’s the one thing that “Sex and the City” should never be.
Postscript: It’s four days later. I have been in an ideological and international argument (there are words I thought I might never write again) with good friends who are saying I have missed a feminist message about ageing. Erm, you are kidding, aren’t you? Did I miss something here? After hours on messenger/webcam (I am addicted to both) I have hauled myself over imagined coals – and I just don’t see it. Samantha fighting age with creams and pills? Consider accepting and enjoying each wrinkle and change and then I might see a feminist message. Carrie’s shoes? I topple over in Manolos and am sticking to Mephisto, thanks. You won’t convince me, darling wimmin. It’s a turkey of a movie. There is no feminist sub-text. It’s a rich woman’s capitalist rant about malaise – and that stinks, when real women are starving and suffering. I am NOT seeing it again, okay?