Following up 2006’s hit-and-miss — but still successful — Paris, je t'aime is another anthology film about love conceived by Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné. This time we’re in the Big Apple for New York, I Love You, and the results are more consistently underwhelming.
New York, I Love You fails to elicit much of anything over the course of most of its 11 short films, coming up wanting where Paris, je t'aime hit the mark. Rather than present each of its films in discrete segments, New York, I Love You attempts to weave many of its stories together to create some kind of cohesive whole. It’d be generous to call it a well-intentioned failure — thematic connection would’ve certainly been adequate.
Also, while each segment takes place in a different iconic area of New York City like Paris, je t'aime did for Paris, most of these locales seem purely incidental to their respective films — the kind of soulless location scouting that makes New York City an endlessly popular setting for dozens of films without showing us anything interesting about the city. Really? Another shot of the New York City skyline? How illuminating.
As for the shorts themselves, not all are without merit. Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman light up the screen as a long-married couple in the otherwise listlessly directed segment from Joshua Marston and Ethan Hawke entertainingly jabbers the ear off of a stranger played by Maggie Q in a nicely surprising short from Yvan Attal.
Elsewhere — well the names involved ought to give you a clue to the quality the film traffics in. Hayden Christensen shows himself just as inept at playing a hustler as any other character he’s ever played, Brett Ratner directs with a typical humorless bluntness, Bradley Cooper plays another sexed-up douchebag, and Shia LaBeouf is miscast yet again in an utterly pretentious short that even Julie Christie and John Hurt can’t save. Other segments — including ones directed by Natalie Portman, Mira Nair, and Shunji Iwai — aren't bad, but feel like little more than filler.
While it’s somewhat unfair to compare New York, I Love You to its predecessor, it’s an easy example of how this type of film can be done right — having the wealth of talent that Paris, je t'aime featured is an important first step. With yet another entry, Shanghai, I Love You, on the way, let's hope the concept gets an overhaul, or at least better directors.
The Blu-ray Disc
New York, I Love You is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Interestingly, there’s a very homogenous feel to the transfer, with all directors’ segments looking more or less the same, although that’s more a comment on the film itself. The transfer here is excellent, with strong color saturation and fine detail. Even if the films show us nothing new about New York City, at least the familiar images look great here. The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby DTS-HD, and it’s pretty much a front channel affair, with dialogue presented cleanly and crisply. Occasional city noise provides some ambiance, but nothing to get too excited about.
There’s not a lot going for the bonus material on the disc, which is all presented in standard def. Two segments that were excised from the film — unfortunately, as both are better than several of the film’s worst — are included here. One is written and directed by Scarlett Johansson and the other written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Also included are five short director interviews from Ratner, Attal, Marston, Nair, and Iwai. The theatrical trailer rounds out the extras.
The Bottom Line
There’s very little wheat among the chaff that is New York, I Love You, making it hardly worth it to even pick around the underperformers.