A hush of the hubbub that has sounded throughout the trailers falls as the cinema packed with Sex and the City fans wait with baited breath for the latest instalment from their much loved characters as Sex and the City 2 begins. After appearing on our screens over twelve years ago Sex and the City has become one of the most recognisable and well-known television series ever as the lives of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) wove themselves into the consciousness of countless women. When it ended in 2004 rumours abounded that the girls would appear in a Sex and the City film. After several denials and non-committal words from all involved, out came Sex and the City: the movie. Untying the series ends only to tie them back up again, the film was, on the whole, a hit with fans. Sex and the City 2, both released and set two years on from the first movie, has raised several eyebrows.
The film starts promisingly; the show’s glitz and glamour is immortalised in it’s sparkly opening montage while Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s Empire State of Mind gives the film a thudding feel-good feel. As Carrie reminisces about her early friendship with the other SATC girls (involving some very funny 80’s flashbacks) the film seems set to capture the robust writing and the fun of its television counterpart. Alarm bells do, however, start to blare when Liza Minelli makes an appearance in the outrageously over-the-top wedding the girls attend.
The film then slowly spirals into nigh nonsensical story that sees Carrie and co take an all expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi whilst trying to quiet the inner turmoil each of them has begun to feel back at home; for Carrie this involves confronting the different things she and Big (Chris Noth) want from marriage, Samantha has to come to terms with ageing, sexism at work haunts Miranda whilst Charlotte worries about the relationship shared between her husband and their children’s nanny. All of these issues have the capacity to be moving but none are dealt with brilliantly and can sometimes feel a bit imposed.
Fans of the show’s fashion will not be disappointed however, with the cast being given even more reign than normal to don new offerings from all of their favourite designers. Despite the intensity of Abu Dhabi’s climate Carrie sometimes wears extravagant ensembles that only she could carry off. Her chance meeting with significant old flame Aidan (John Corbett) takes place in one such outfit and makes their meeting all the more fantastically ludicrous (feel free to delete as appropriate). Aidan’s appearance in the film is brief and fans may feel cheated after numerous rumours were churned out as to his role in the film. He feels very much like a prop featured merely to add problems to Carrie’s already slightly cracked marriage.
Critics have largely overlooked the above flaws in order to focus on a much larger one. Sex and the City 2’s portrayal of Abu Dhabi has, by some, been branded as controversial, mysoginistic and racist. The flippant way Samantha ignores the country’s, albeit seemingly frugal, customs and inhabitant’s reactions to her actions, namely rubbing her hand up a man’s thigh in public and forcing condoms into the faces of a crowd that surrounds her in a market scene, understandably haven’t gone down too well, but people may do well to remember just who they’re questioning; if Samantha hasn’t caused you some sort of offence to you at some point during the show’s six year run then you may be made of harder stuff than most. Unfortunately it is not Samantha’s actions alone that have caught critics attention. The quartet’s rendition of I Am Woman jars with their setting whilst their escape from the hands of angered men in the market mentioned above isn’t so much as funny but in fact rather uncomfortable. Because of this flaw the film sometimes seems naïve to the realities of the world.
After watching Sex and the City 2 it may be none of the things above that affect your enjoyment of a film that promised so much, you may be left wondering whether the title is entirely appropriate; if it wasn’t for Samantha’s ongoing efforts to sleep with everything whilst looking radiant then there would be very little sex in the film whilst the city which has acted as the fifth lead character throughout the series takes a back seat and is, at times, entirely forgotten. The girls seem to have been flown to Abu Dhabi to squeeze the final dregs of comedy out of their lives. With its two vital ingredients missing for large parts of the film, Sex and the City 2 becomes predictable and loses a lot of the wittiness that made its series so well-loved. In true Carrie-style, you may find yourself asking, when the relationship between a film’s title and its content becomes so estranged, is there actually still a relationship there at all?
Best performance; Kim Cattrall’s Samantha.