In lieu of Monday’s weekly book review, I went to see Sex & the City 2 on Friday night, so I will be reviewing that instead. Well, it is based on a book…
Having read all the 2-star reviews on blogs and in magazines over the past weeks, I went into the whole thing with very low expectations. I knew the flick would be an exercise in product placement even more so than the first one, what with Sarah Jessica Parker sitting on the board of, and now designing for, Halston Heritage. Not to mention the Manolos, Jimmy Choos and Louboutins that we’ve come to know and love because of SATC. Mr. Blahnik was even quoted as saying “that shoe [the blue satin shoe that Carrie goes back for in the first film and gets Big as well] saved our company”. (Ironically, he’s also slammed the show for making him famous.)
The controversy surrounding the heavily Photoshopped promo poster and the “sex in the Middle East” subject matter also overshadowed the film’s premier and the memories of the girls gallivanting around New York City, breaking boundaries for women in television, and in life.
While SATC2 itself wasn’t groundbreaking, it was much better than I thought it was going to be. It was a visual explosion, for one thing; the sets, particularly Carrie and Big’s apartment, were stunning and so inspirational, as Paula Joye reiterates in her e-newsletter, LifeStyled. I am having major apartment-envy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if SATC style becomes the interior du jour.
The main image fans have been bombarded with in the lead up to the film’s release was that of the four stars traipsing across the desert, Samantha in a studded helmet-like headdress and Charlotte channelling Olivia Newton John in “Let’s Get Physical”. Thank God this scene is not representative of the rest of their wardrobes. While costume designer Patricia Field should be sartorially ashamed, most of the other outfits really evoked a Middle Eastern flair.
In other areas, especially the scenes back in New York, Field fell flat. Yes, two years have passed since the first film, which was absolutely decadent in it’s use of fashion, replete with 50-plus costume changes for Carrie, and we are now in a recession. However, with an alleged $10 million costuming budget, you’d think Field could have jazzed it up a bit, especially when it came to Carrie. Boring white Halston with some gold accents, and a belly-caring gingham top with jeans aren’t very Carrie-esque.
But I will applaud the movie for bringing back some fashion favourites. In the ’80s flashback scene, you will notice Carrie’s navy hat box, which reappears on the Abu Dhabi trip some 25 years later. The pink and white suitcases Carrie uses when she moves to Paris with Petrovski are also used again in UAE. And during Carrie and Big’s marriage crisis, Big arrives at Carrie’s old apartment in his town car like the days of old, where she greets him in her Autumn/Winter 2000/2001 Dior newsprint dress. That certainly elicited a response from the movie-goers!
The new characters were endearing, especially Carrie’s butler in Abu Dhabi, Guarau , whose personal life made her reflect on her own. (Spoiler alert: Carrie begins to resent Big for wanting to spend more time at home, ie. on the couch, while she still wants to embrace her inner party girl. She decides to spend some time at her old apartment [see above] to “write”, and when she returns to their communal quarters, they have a wonderful night getting “reacquainted”. When Big suggests they make a habit of having “two days off from their marriage a week”, Carrie freaks out and flees to Abu Dhabi with the girls; Guarau’s wife still lives in India and he commutes whenever he has the time/money to see her.) And how Samantha referred to them was even better! Some gems were “‘Paula’ Abdul”, Samantha’s gay butler, and her UAE expat love interest, “Lawrence of Arabia my labia”.
In other sex-scandal related news, Samantha’s Birkin is broken at the spice market, and out spills a plethora of condoms. Samantha is shamed by the shoppers in the street, and in a display of sexual liberation, she throws her birth control at the Middle Easterners as only she could, which harkens back to other Samantha moments (ie. accusing a Playboy bunny of stealing her fake Fendi; throwing her wig into the audience at a breast cancer benefit). While this may not have been an appropriate way to represent attitudes to sex in this part of the world, it is Samantha, and it is Sex & the City.
What I found even less appropriate was the amount of cleavage on show, especially Carries! My friend and I mused about whether SJP’s had a boob job; I doubt she has, but her bountiful bosom was certainly out there. And don’t even get me started on the braless nanny!
The storylines were a bit disjointed, I will admit to that; Anthony’s revelation, during their Liza Minnelli-infused nuptuals, that he will most likely cheat on Stanford, Charlotte’s nanny neuroses, and Aidan’s disappearance after he kisses Carrie were all left unresolved. While it may be plausible for you to run a mile from the man you cheated on your husband with in the Middle East, it doesn’t make for formidable storytelling on the big screen. I will never forget how the audience rejoiced in gasps, followed by laughter at our mutual reactions, when Aidan deigned to kiss Carrie when they’re both happily married.
While the consensus does seem to be that the movie sucks (it’s worth seeing for Liza’s rendition of “Single Ladies” alone!) , I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. My friends and I are a hard audience to please, and we all enjoyed it immensely. Can’t wait to get it on DVD and gift to all. Christmas, perhaps?
Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why SATC2 Never Stood a Chance.