*WARNING: Some minor spoilers ahead.*
‘Twas like a confection. True, most will remember it for its blinding parade of pouffy dresses and towering heels, but to me, it was like consuming a huge, over-sized hunk of bittersweet chocolate.
No, I won’t spoil pivotal plot twists in Sex and the City: The Movie , but suffice is to say, the flick was fashionable, chic, sometimes sweet and sometimes a tad depressing . . . in the way that the challenges one faces in one’s forties are much different, and sometimes more serious, than in one’s twenties and thirties. Our quartet of HBO gals are four years older in the new movie. They’ve faced ups and downs in life, and carry those triumphs and defeats with them. I left the movie theater on opening weekend after watching the ladies feeling as though I should be saying things such as: “I couldn’t help but wonder, is this what life in the forties is like? We’ll learn that things -- like marriage and compromises made for love -- aren’t always what they were cracked up to be? Like bittersweet chocolate, when you’re in your forties, can love be bitter?”
I’ve always felt a certain level of kinship with the heroine and heart of the series, Carrie Bradshaw. While on paper we have absolutely nada in common -- I’ve never lived in New York City, I married my college sweetheart and have three kids -- I too am a columnist who likes to ponder and wonder and attempt to make sense of the world by musing in essays such as this one. And though I grabbed for a hanky when, during the conclusion of the TV series, Carrie’s longtime love flew to Paris to tell her that she was his One, I’ve always felt uneasy with Mr. Big, the way he wormed and wheedled his way in and out of situations to suit his own narcissistic motives, to hell with everyone else. Carrie’s love for him, for her friends and for her clothes was always uncomplicated. Mr. Big, he was complicated, big time. So when I stepped into the theater I wondered if the film would do anything to alter my perception of Mr. Big. Alas, it did not. While he and Carrie may have been star-crossed lovers, similar to the ones you read about in classic literature, Mr. Big never convinced me that he was worthy of “our gal,” especially in the film.
To discuss Carrie’s story in the movie any more in depth would betray too many plot points here, though, overall, I found her portrayal to be darker and more thoughtful than in the past. And if you’re a romantic at heart, you might come away from the movie wishing your significant other would recite this poem  some day. It was a poem Carrie was reading to do research on a book about love.
How does the film treat Miranda Hobbes, the smart, working mom whose jaded cynicism always brought Carrie’s romantic starriness down to earth? When we last left her character in the TV series, she’d married low-keyed, sweet bartender, Steve, the father of her baby, Brady. In the Sex and the City movie, her marriage has hit a speed bump. The film explained that Steve and Miranda haven’t had sex in six months. She’d stopped shaving (well, to be more precise, she’d stopped bikini waxing) and blamed the lack of amorous relations on the pressures of being a harried working parent who has to do things like buy a Halloween costume to wear to her son Brady’s school party where all the parents are expected to dress up. Overall, on the Miranda front, I was not disappointed by what I saw on the silver screen. Plus, you’ll never look at the Brooklyn Bridge in the same way.
Meanwhile, the only other mom in the series, Charlotte York Goldenblatt had multiple reasons to celebrate in the new movie: She was still married to a kind man with whom she was happily raising their adopted daughter Lily in a beautiful townhouse in the Upper East Side AND learned (spoiler alert!) she was pregnant, after having been told years ago that her getting pregnant wasn’t in the cards. And while Charlotte toted around her daughter like a precious one-of-a-kind fashion accessory -- Lily was privy to much adult conversation about sex and relationships -- Charlotte’s long-desired role of mother was significantly played down. In the movie, Charlotte proved to be more of a sounding board for Carrie and Miranda than she was given the opportunity to explore her own issues. And that was a shame. Charlotte, ever the bright optimist who felt guilty about her good fortune in life as compared to her friends, deserved more interesting material. Several of the scenes with Samantha Jones peeping through the windows of an exhibitionist neighbor’s sexual antics, could’ve been left on the cutting room floor to make room for Charlotte.
A fan of the TV show, I also found myself surprised by the film’s lack of succinctly-told tales, crisp wit and goofy one-liners (the kind of bad puns which made SATC deliciously fun, this IS the show which brought us the break-up-via-Post-It and the phrase “funky spunk”). But what the film lacked in brevity -- running time exceeded two hours -- it made up for with its thoughtful, sometimes stark (by SATC standards) look at the damage wreaked by romantic heartbreak in a way the TV series never really did because the characters were expected to move on (and into bed again) quickly. In the film, viewers were asked to ponder questions about love, forgiveness and self respect, questions the characters -- except for Charlotte -- fielded in abundance.
Thus, I return to the bittersweet metaphor, because what’s a discussion of SATC without an awkward metaphor or two? Watching Sex and the City: The Movie is like eating an over-sized hunk of bittersweet chocolate. It’s smooth, sweet in places, bitter in others, full of calories, but, in the end, provides guilty pleasure.
*After you’ve seen the film:* You might enjoy the glossy, photo-ladened book, Sex and the City: The Movie . Don’t read it before seeing the movie because it contains the entire plot. It includes trivia about the film, the fashion and the filming locations, along with pages of info which describe which designer made what outfit in what scene, and notes from writer/director Michael Patrick King and star Sarah Jessica Parker. While the text in the book above the movie stills reminded me of simplistic lines you’d see in a children’s picture book (“In the morning, Carrie dressed for her wedding, and everyone agreed she looked stunning.”) I’d like to think of this publication as a pop culture artifact, not meant for heavy thinking.