Sex and the City Review
After a glitzy opening sequence with a hip hopped-up title tune, Sex and the City takes its time giving us a resume of the four lead characters' lives, a refresher for fans of the TV series, which ended in 2004, or an introduction to those who've never seen it before, should any such people exist. What we find is the girls have pretty much been on pause for the last four years, going through the motions but poised, like greyhounds in the slips, ready to be unleashed into adventures new.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) are on an even keel, seeking out the ideal Manhattan apartment and coasting effortlessly towards marriage's home base. Likewise, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Steve (David Eigenberg), and also Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry (Evan Handler) are still happily together, each couple with a growing young child to provide further anchorage and stability. Even the ultra-promiscuous Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has at last been tamed by her long-time affair with Smith (Jason Lewis), though the old Samantha can be glimpsed in her predilection for voyeurism and the highly imaginative presentation of a sushi meal.
The driving force of the TV series was frequent partner-swapping and the on/off fragility of the longer-term relationships, so with all this stasis and monogamy where does the tension come from? Well, that would be telling, but sex, or the lack of it, is naturally enough the catalyst, and as a web of mishap, betrayal and guilty secrets is surely spun, there is plenty of drama to last out the 148 minutes and fans will not be disappointed.
What is good about Sex and the City is that sensibly Michael Patrick King has been kept at the helm and he's very much followed the format of the TV series and not resorted to re-inventing everything in the overblown fashion that has been the downfall of many small screen comedy film versions. It feels episodic but in the right kind of way - it could almost be half a new series with story arcs tailored to fit the smaller frame. All the familiar and much-loved elements are present and correct. There are some very witty lines, such as a reference to a forty-year-old woman photographed in a wedding dress and Diane Arbus. And when Carrie dyes her hair to change her image, she says that her head is in the witness protection program.
Most familiar of all are the four-way sessions of sex-talk between the girls, which, like the TV series, provide the backbone. One of these is given an amusing spin when Charlotte's young daughter is present and they resort to a euphemism based on kiddie's colouring books, lest she pick up and start repeating the dreaded s-word. Each of the quartet gets to strut her stuff. In a sojourn down in Mexico, Charlotte's legendary fastidiousness and microphobia are brought out to amusing effect; Miranda's waspishness comes to the fore in a few choice scenes; Samantha, now pushing fifty, has her own version of a mid-life crisis; and Carrie, as ever, wears her existential quandaries on her sleeve.
Of the menfolk, Smith and Harry tend to take a backseat to Steve and Big when it comes to sharing out the drama, showing one of the limitations of the film form in that there isn't so much space for those meandering subplots that give the secondary characters a chance to breathe. A new face appears in the form of Carrie's assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson), a bright sassy black girl, who drags Carrie into the cyber age and serves the purpose of making the franchise more multi-ethnic. But more than any human character, it's the dresses, the shoes and the handbags that are the real stars of the show, all of them fetishised to levels that a heterosexual male like myself can't possibly hope to comprehend. And what is the centrepiece of all this and the MacGuffin around which everything crystallises? Why a pair of Manolo Blahniks, of course - what else could it be!