Sunday, 1 June 2008

Sex and the City

Director: Michael Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin David & Kim Cattrall

An enjoyable return of the Sex and the City cast and characters, this time on the big screen.

Sex and the City is a difficult film to review. The difficulty is due mainly to two reasons; That I am a fan of the TV series and that this really is not a movie. Directed by Michael Patrick King, a director that worked on Sex and the City when it was a TV series knows the cast and characters so well that he perfectly captures the feel of the TV show for the film. King is so good at capturing the feel of the show that Sex and the City, the film, ceases to feel like a film and feels more like an extended episode of the TV series.

When adapting a TV series for the big screen, especially an adaptation that uses the same cast and follows on from the TV series, it becomes an opportunity to tell a story on a larger scale, making use of the advantages available to a big screen production. Sometimes this is an opportunity to deliver bigger action sequences and have bigger effects like with The X-Files: Fight the Future in 1998 or be more daring and risqué than was possible on television like with 2007’s The Simpsons Movie. However, Sex and the City was a TV series that ran on HBO, which was already able to be as risqué as it wished to be and its subject matter does not lend itself to big action or special effects. So, while it would seem that there is not much reason to justify a big screen adaptation of what is presented in this adaptation, Sex and the City manages to remain as entertaining as any episode of the series from which it began.

The storyline is interesting enough to old fans and provides enough to lure in new fans. The film starts several years after the TV series ended and our cast is living well in the lives established for them at the end of the TV series. At the end of the TV series, after 6 seasons, Carrie, the star of the series finally settled down with Mr. Big, her on again/off again love interest over the life of the series. The plot of the film then begins with the next logical development for characters; should they get married? The answer, the events it leads to and the consequences it has for Carrie, Mr. Big and their friends and friends’ relationships becomes the main hook for the film. Asking questions of all our characters over whether marriage is necessary in a loving relationship, the film and characters react quite naturally to the answers and their consequences. Like with the TV series, Sex and the City treats the subject matter maturely with a fair amount of comedy and sex for entertainment. While the ultimate outcome of the film is fairly predictable (the makers of the film not wanting to undermine the, already popular, finale to the TV series), the journey still has rewards.

The cast perform very well. All of the cast to come from the TV series have spent years playing their characters and are able to get back into character effectively. Chris Noth, the mysterious Mr. Big of the TV series, gets to develop his character more than most early on the film giving us a bit more insight into his personality that he usually received in the series and while his, and other male characters, are presented as fallible characters, the insight given into their decisions and reactions keep them sympathetic. Another film, featuring four female leads discussing love and fashion, might choose to focus solely on the female perspective and perhaps even demonize the male characters, however, in the film as with the TV series, Sex and the City shows our leads are every bit as fallible as the men in their lives.

Overall, Sex and the City will be enjoyed immensely by fans, old and new, of the TV series. While the plot and pacing match that of the TV series, thus feeling somewhat uneven as a film and much enjoyment in the characters depends more on you having seen some of the TV series (the first half hour giving little insight into the character’s motivations, no doubt assuming most audiences know them already), this is still an enjoyable film and will be better appreciated once it is released for television.

Rating: 3/5 for new audiences; 4/5 for fans of the TV series