The Girls Are Back on Top; ONE TO CATCH: Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker
Byline: Matthew Bond
What the Sex And The City movie pulls off so brilliantly is a sudden,even shocking change of pace and tone. One minute - or to be strictly accurate,for more than 30 minutes - we're in the frothy, frivolous world of vertiginousheels, designer labels and fashionable New York restaurants that we've come toexpect from Carrie and her girly gang; the next ... well, the film's makerswould, very understandably, prefer me not to tell you about the crucial turningpoint.
So let me just say that you may need a tissue or two as those Big Apple galsserve up one big shock and then a series of smaller ones that collectivelyoffer some surprisingly telling insights into the pain and perils of modernrelationships, and see betrayal, forgiveness and that very 21st Centuryphenomenon - sheer boredom - all featuring large.
Just as with last week's Indiana Jones film, the makers of SATC fullyacknowledge the passing of real time. It is four years since the much-lovedtelevision series ended with Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) abandoningher Parisian foray, falling into the arms of her on-off love Mr Big andreturning to her faithful friends - Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha - in NewYork. As the film gets under way, Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) are about to moveinto a ritzy apartment and her writing career is going from strength tostrength.
Life, one rapidly gets the impression, is pretty good for Carrie, although, asthe first minidress and high heels with sockscombo reveals, time has donenothing for her extraordinary dress sense.
As for her somewhat more serious friends, red-headed Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) isleading an increasingly badtempered, no-sex-in- Brooklyn sort of life, tryingto balance a full- time career as a lawyer with the demands of being a wife andmother. Charlotte ( Kristin Davis), the perky, preppy brunette, is on a moreeven keel as a Fifth Avenue princess, armed with a rich, doting husband and anadored adopted child. amantha (Kim Cattrall), the blonde man-eater and the mostsenior of the gang, has been successfully treated for her breast cancer and hasmoved to Hollywood to manage the career of the much younger, much blonder actorshe bedded - and, for once, stayed with - a few years ago.
For 30 minutes, it's unremarkable stuff, with Carrie's familiar voiceoverreminding us that for the ambitious, twentysomething girls who arrive in NewYork every year, life is all about the two 'L's - love and labels. Judging bythe thin story and the generous designer name-checks that ensue, it hasn'tchanged much by the time the girls reach fortysomething, like Carrie and herfriends.
Amid the blizzard of endorsements and a distinct shortage of the racy sex thatthe television series always tried to offer, any poor men who have been draggedalong may find themselves losing the will to live. All I can say is, don'texpect things to get better quickly, boys.
Writer-director Michael Patrick King does mix decent jokes with his pathos,with the waspish Samantha, as ever, having all the best lines, particularlyabout bikini waxes and wasabi sauce, although thankfully not at the same time.
One-liners apart, however, this is primarily a film about men behaving badly,and the reason why it will have an emotional resonance for many women - and apainful one for those men brave enough to stick it out - is that it's not justabout bad boys behaving badly. In this picture, the good guys let the sidedown, too.
The film does have its problems. Too many of the comic set-pieces - aninterview sequence, a sudden attack of food-poisoning - are over-familiar, andthere's also the unfortunate whiff of tokenism and stereotype as the barelysize zero Carrie recruits an unrepentantly rounded black PA (Jennifer Hudson).That said, the pair do have some nice scenes together.
I also have some doubts about the inevitable happy ending, although, withoutgiving away the entire plot, it is impossible to say why. …