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Archive for June 9th, 2010

The stars of the film...lots of expensive designer items

By now, anyone who wanted to see it, has surely seen Sex And The City 2.

By now, anyone who cares (and a few who don’t) will have heard or read the mostly awful reviews of the film.

Back in the day, Sex And The City was the HBO television series that ran from 1998 until 2004, detailing the lives of four best friends and their dating adventures in Manhattan.

It is credited with revolutionising the way modern women perceived their own sexuality, attitudes to dating, sex, marriage and their friendships with women.

The show was enormously successful and came to a timely end, just as it was running out of steam.

I loved every single episode (although must admit if I watched too many in a row I quickly turned into a dissatisfied and demanding person who felt she deserved more).

While the film version lacked a lot of the TV series’ edge, it was a huge success (grossing $415million worldwide), so it’s no surprise they made a sequel.

I went along to see it on the opening night a few weeks ago. The story has moved on two years. Carrie and Big (or John as he’s called now) are settled in their luxury Fifth Avenue apartment, Charlotte is raising her two daughters, Miranda is happily living with Steve, her housekeeper Magda and son Brady, and Samantha, still single and on the prowl, and somewhat hampered by the side-effects of the onset of menopause.

After some gratuitous glitzy fun (which sees Liza Minelli do her version of ‘Put A Ring On It’), Samantha announces an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi (which is really Morocco, as Abu Dhabi wasn’t keen on having a Sex And The City film made there). And so we’re whisked away from the fifth character of SATC – Manhattan.

The plot is light and fluffy and hard to find beneath the overwhelming amount of product placement. Essentially it amounts to Carrie grappling with married life and the fear that she and Big are becoming a boring old married couple (earth-shattering problem); Samantha is trying to maintain her legendary libido; Charlotte is still struggling to be perfect, in the face of two not-so-perfectly behaved children and a braless, hot nanny. (It’s hard to feel much sympathy for Charlotte, a full-time mother, with full-time help, who complains about coping then wonders aloud, ‘what must it be like for those moms who have no help?’ What, indeed?); Miranda gets the bum deal in the script, with very little function here except to drop the one-liners and offer advice.

These are all valid issues for lots of women, it’s just that they’re all dealt with in such trite fashion that they can’t really be taken seriously. The film is really just a giant excuse for advertising a long series of handbags, shoes, cars and hotels and nobody wants to pay for a big ad. If this was the case, Vogue would have have ditched their editorial a long time ago.

In the TV series, the shoes, dresses, clothes and lifestyle were always present, but they were never the main story. In the film, they are and that’s just vacuous.

For this viewer, it felt like the starting assumption was ‘women are stupid’ and we’re fed a series of heavy-handed messages about Abu Dhabi, a place where a girl can’t even have a snog without getting arrested and women are made to eat chips under their veils. And guess what, they also like to wear the latest Louis Vuitton collection under their Burkhas – just like you and me. It’s simplified and dumbed-down in the extreme.

One of the least enjoyable aspects of the film was what felt like a new undertone, a sarcastic, meaner edge to some of the representations of Samantha that made her look a little pathetic, seedy and desperate. Her character veered close to ridicule at many points and it just felt mean. And SATC was never mean to women in that way.

Perhaps one good thing to come out of the films is that they have given women an opportunity to get dressed up and go out together in an unashamedly girly, frivolous and flippant way, which they might otherwise not have the excuse to do.

Personally, I’d rather host an Ann Summers party.

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