Once upon a time, there were four women in the City. The women shopped, worked, went to lavish parties, and above all, they each searched for their Prince Charming and their happily ever after. They were powerful and fabulous — smart, beautiful, loyal to each other. The only problem was, all their confidence and sense went out the window every time they met a man.
And that’s pretty much the subject matter of the new film, Sex and the City. How can anyone with so much going for her be so clueless when it comes to love? And yet, women are – time and time again. Who can’t relate? As a woman I’ve got examples of my own, and I’ve watched friends get thrashed by romance and run back for more. What is it about the promise of a fairy tale ending that turns daunting women into masochists?
Sex and the City opens with Carrie – lead character and narrator of the TV series of the same name – reminiscing about arriving in New York City 20 years prior. She spots a group of four women who could easily pass for the original Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte, and she smiles. Women come to The City for two reasons, Carrie muses – the two Ls: Labels and Love.
Laying their hands on the Labels (Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo shoes, Louis Vuitton handbags, and on and on) is no problem for the upper class paychecks these four women pull down. It’s the other L, Love, that makes their lives complicated.
“Love” is the topic of the book Carrie is writing throughout the film – or trying to. She’s got serious writer’s block and thinks making a major life change will shake things up. Well it does, but not quite in the way she planned. Charlotte seems happy as a clam; “I’m happy every day!” she insists. So happy she begins to worry something will go horribly wrong. Miranda and Samantha separately ponder where self-preservation and self-sacrifice begin and end, in loving someone. Should a person love someone else more than they love themselves? The implications of this drive the women’s stories.
These four storylines weave up and down, to the forefront and back to the shadows, again and again throughout the movie. One wonders if agents fought over each actor having equal dialogue counts and screen time. The result feels more like separate stories rehashed four times rather than one cohesive film with the proper pull of dramatic tension. At times the story seems to lag. Other times, the ebullience feels forced, like a party everyone’s pretending to have more fun at than they are. Do women who see each other nearly daily for a decade or two really shriek every time they see each other?