Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sex and the City

Lowdown: It’s love that matters, stupid. And a designer bag to go with it.
Review:
The world, it seems, is divided in two: those that watch Sex and the City and those that didn’t. Yours truly belongs heavily into the second camp, having never watched more than snippets of the TV show and having identified the source of that most annoying ring-tone relatively lately.
There can be no doubt about me not belonging to SatC’s target demographics. This is the queen of the chick flick if ever there was one, aimed fairly and squarely at women considering themselves educated, mature, and most importantly – sophisticated. That said, although I wouldn’t have rushed to rent SatC right away if it was up to me, I was curious to familiarize myself with the phenomenon. Thus I have found myself sitting on the sofa on a Friday night eager to watch the DVD.
For a TV series expanded into the big screen, SatC is relatively long. In all other respects, however, it looks and feels like a souped up TV episode. Not that there’s anything wrong with that when it’s done well.
SatC revolves around four New York women, of which Sarah Jessica Parker seems to be the leader. All of them seem to have more money than they could spend, no real jobs, too much time on their hands (despite some having kids), and an extreme obsession with ensuring high status looks through the acquisition of material possessions (mainly clothing and accessories from brand names I have never even heard of that sound Italian or French). They also have problems, though: Getting married to someone who was married before and is afraid to do the same mistake again, midlife crises, infertility, pregnancy, a cheating husband, losing interest in their partner (to name a few). The film revolves around the handling of these issues, with the usual pattern one can expect from a Hollywood film that is out there to make a buck - things go well, all of a sudden things don't go well, breakdown, things recover for a happy ending. Hope I didn't spoil it for anyone.
The answer, my friend, to all of the above listed problems, at least according to SatC, is love. Fair enough; only that the answer is wrapped up in this cellophane cover and made much sweeter than it really is, and Sarah Jessica Parker gives these meaningless monologue speeches about how we make our own rules about love... and it all comes down to a pile of meaningless bullshit. The premises behind SatC is, to quote a colleague film reviewer, the selling of a certain myth to women looking for someone to sell them that myth; and in the case of SatC, those women will find themselves being pushed with the myth of love till it comes out of their ears.
That, however, is not the main problem with SatC. The biggest problem is to do with the values on display: Just as with The Devil Wears Prada, SatC claims that you're a good woman if you're in love and tolerant etc, but you're a much better woman if you wear a designer dress, shoes that cost as much as a car, and a handbag that requires a second mortgage. The stench of consumerism was way more than I could bear, and the notion that you're only as good as your possessions was even worse. Take that, Gandhi!
Representative scene: Jessica Parker hugs her token black assistant. "You gave me love", she says; the black assistant hugs her back and says, "and you gave me a [insert famous Italian brand name] handbag". Note: do not quote me on the exact wording.
Overall: Light entertainment that should not be taken seriously or as a source of inspiration. 2 out of 5 stars.

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