Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha are four years older than they were when their
Emmy-winning series ended. As the movie version of Sex and the City begins, they are no wiser. By the conclusion,
however, at least a few of life’s lessons have been learned.
on HBO from 1998 through 2004, “Sex and the City” was a long series of comic
vignettes on the lives of single young women in one of the world’s most
glamorous places, Manhattan.
The size of its success (millions still watch it on cable reruns) speaks to the
chord “Sex and the City” struck among its largely female audience. It was one
of the rare television shows to explore the meaning of being a woman and
being—well, not alone exactly. Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha had
their careers, they had many men and, bottom line, they had each other. The
careers were satisfying to a degree and gave Carrie, a writer, the opportunity
to reflect intelligently on her choices. The men never seemed to be that
allusive (or was it illusive?) Mr. Right, even if Carrie was often in the arms
of Mr. Big.
the most attractive part of their lives, aside from the colorful profusion of
shoes, skirts and handbags, was the bond of their friendship. Together they
formed a rocky island in a sea of uncertainty, solid ground in the shifting
currents of postmodern life. They could count on each other.
film adaptation, starring the original cast of Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie),
Kristin Davis (Charlotte),
Cynthia Nixon (Miranda) and Kim Cattrall (Samantha), grapples with the
foursome’s choices as they push past youth toward middle age. Was their earlier
life only an extended lark? And should they settle for Mr. Right Enough if Mr.
Right never materializes? Ultimately, Sex
and the City wonders how anyone can square the dreams of youth, assuming
they were ever acted upon, with the demands of growing up.
four distinct characters approach their dilemmas differently. Miranda’s march
toward the frumpy end of responsibility threatens to end her marriage to
good-hearted Steve. She had lost interest in sex and won’t forgive him for his
one stray night, for which he is heartily sorry. Samantha, concerned with
little but sex and power, is going to be a disturbing force of nature in any
committed relationship. Charlotte,
the most annoying of the four with her prissiness and girlish shrieks of
happiness, is the one who has found stability in a Jewish marriage and an
adopted Chinese child.
filling the role of narrator as she did on the cable series, is at the
intersection of the rambling plot lines. Mr. Big agrees to marry her after they
find a heavenly prewar apartment with parquet floors and French doors opening
onto a terrace overlooking Central Park. The wedding
plans assume a life of their own, including a photo shoot for Vogue and a ceremony in the baroque
splendor of Carrie’s favorite place, the New York Public Library. Only one
problem but it’s a large one: Can Mr. Big, a handsome New York plutocrat, actually commit?
trouble with the movie is not that it forces its central characters to consider
the next phase of their lives. It’s just that it could have been both funnier
and more fun spread out over a season of shows than crammed into a single, overstuffed
two and a half hour movie. Director Michael Patrick King was unable to marshal
the stories of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha into the streamlined
comedy a Sex and the City
have been. What might have seemed humorous and sharply insightful in a half
hour starts to become a long, tired slog to the finish line. There are amusing
moments but too many mirthless stretches where product placement is crucial
(even if the four women were always keen on designer labels). There are needless
side plots, including that Hollywood
of the wise-in-the-ways-of-life African-American sidekick, who appears as
Carrie’s personal assistant and helps her sort out priorities as well as her