So, I mentioned that I went to go see Sex and the City on the weekend. I went to it already having read Audrey’s post, and therefore knowing 1) a lot of the plot and 2) a lot of the things that would make me angry about the movie.
What I didn’t know was how much I would like it.
I went to go see it because my sister and I had some free tickets and wanted to spend some time together. I wanted to go see Prince Caspian, but she wanted to see SATC, and I had no real objection, since I sorta kinda wanted to see it, but had no desire to spend actual money to do so.
Let’s get this right out the way: I am going to basically spoil the whole plot. If you don’t want to see it, wouldn’t see it if someone paid you money to do so, would poke your own eyes out if forced to see it, or don’t care if you know the plot before you see it, then read on!
First off: this movie is completely ridiculous and gratuitous. It is not set in New York. It is set in the imaginations of billions of women who have never been to New York, and who dream about being there and being rich and special. It is a New York where Penthouse Suites have teeny tiny closets, but romantic men make them into large, shiny walk-in closets as engagement gifts. (I love you, Big.) Where when you are having an emotional disaster your friends will say ‘whatever you need, honey’, and then whisk you off to foreign climes. Where even if you are a busy attorney, you can drop everything at the drop of a hat to be whisked off to foriegn climes. Because, you know. Whatever Carrie needs. And where if you shriek loud enough, you can get a taxi in New York on New Years Eve. For symbolic reasons, natch.
I think some of my bitterness came out there. The second thing I need to establish is this: I cannot stand Carrie Bradshaw. SJP herself seems nice enough, if a little whack in the wardrobe department. But Carrie is irritating, annoying, shrill, self centred, psuedo-intellectual, and needy.
Part of the problem here is that the film is About Carrie. Samantha gets a mini plot line, Miranda gets half of one, and Charlotte is pretty much there for nostalgia value. And to squee a lot. And not only do I like Miranda the best, I identify with her. A lot. Several times during the film there would be a conversation, and I would throw away an aside to my sister under my breath, and then Miranda would say exactly the same thing. I am her. I am.
Which made this film disappointing for me. The whole film was essentially ‘how do we do a film, but get the girls right back where they were at the end of the series?’ Charlotte finally gets the daughter she has always wanted – again. Samantha is on a new journey of sexual/romantic discovery – again. Miranda learns an important lesson about love and life – again. Carrie and Big get together, forever. AGAIN.
I felt betrayed by Mirand’s arc. At the end of the series, they lead you to believe that she is thawing, that Steve is good for her, that she will always be prickly and hard-nosed, but that she is learning how to be happy within herself and around that. In the movie, she is waaaaaaaaaaay more terse and prickly than she ever was. And not only that, she is unreasonable. She was never unreasonable before. At least, not within her own frame of reference. I realise I’m taking this a little personally. But there’s this one part where she screams at Steve ‘I changed who I was for you!’ No. No, she didn’t. She was doing that at the end of the series. But it’s like that never happened.
Maybe she wasn’t unreasonable. I don’t know. Because although her marriage is falling apart and she is going through emotional hell, we don’t get to see any of that. Why?
Although. I did finally realise why Miranda and Carrie are friends. Throughout the series, there’s always reference to how they are Best Friends, and all that. I never got that. I mean – why? But there’s a sort of wrap up scene at the end, where Miranda has to make an emotional decision and is struggling because for all her smarts, that’s just not her thing. And Carrie talks her through it. Because Carrie is all about (her own) emotions.
And I recognised that scene. I have that friend. We have that talk. All the time.
Thankfully for me, I am not nearly as emotionally cramped as Miranda. And my friend is not even close to being as self absorbed.
Further notes: I know it’s a scholcky movie. I know. But there is some beautiful shots in the middle, when all the drama was happening. Over dramatic, sure. Heavy handed, I can’t argue. But I thought to myself ‘if this movie was in Spanish, and set in Mexico, all the intellectuals would be clamouring about how Deep and Meanigful and Beautiful is is. But because it’s white women in New York, we’re not supposed to like it.’
But I really think it did some interesting talking. There were real, serious themes of forgiveness and relationships and marriage and commitment, and what all those things mean. Just like the show. Just because it’s schlock doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful.
And in the end, it was, at least for me. I cried in several parts of the film. Heck, I got teary in the opening montage! Because that was when I remembered. I remembered how much I liked (most of) those girls. And the other characters – Steve, Harry, Big, even Smith. How much time I have spent with them, how much crap they’ve gone through. How much crap I’ve gone through. How many metaphors they have provided, conversations they have started. Just because it’s white middle class culture, doesn’t mean it’s not culture.
And I really really liked Samantha’s arc. Spoiler alert: she breaks up with Smith. I cried then, too. Not because they broke up. That was inevitable – from the opening credits, I knew it would happen. But because it was beautiful and caring and well executed. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me. She leaves because she is not happy – she doesn’t like the monogamy, sure (they make a big deal of how she wants to sleep with her next door neighbour. Which she never does, which is either a sign of her emotional maturity, or a truimph for Moral America. I can’t decide which). But more than that, she is frustrated by the way her life has come to revolve around a man, to the extent where she doesn’t do the things she loves any more. Like… uh… have lots of sex and shop in New York. Ok, so maybe the moral high ground is a bit further up.
But still. As she is leaving she says ‘I love you. I am going to say what you are not supposed to say. I love you, but I love me more. And I have had a great five year relationship with you. But I have had a great 49 year relationship with me. And that’s the one I’ve got to work on right now.’
Yay, Samantha! I am proud of her. She did what she needed to do. Instead of staying with Smith and throwing sushi at him, she got out of a relationship that was not what she needed (after giving it a fair chance). And she is right – he will meet a lovely girl who will appreciate him and his commitment. And who won’t throw sushi at him.
This is getting soppy. Which is the point of the movie – it’s not high art. It’s fun. It’s silly. And the reasons it is good are purely emotional. You like the movie because you like the characters and you are invested in their stories. And I am. So I liked it.
But soppy is not something I enjoy being, so I am going to stop. Except to say this.
I really fucking hate gladiator sandals.