Four years on, Carrie (Parker) is apartment hunting with man-friend Big (Chris Noth); Samantha (Cattrall) is on the West Coast; Miranda (Nixon) has settled down to domestic bliss in Brooklyn, and Charlotte (Davis) is happily raising her adopted child.
For many women in their late twenties/early thirties, Sex And The City is the equivalent of The Phantom Menace. From its debut in 1998, the six-season sexploits of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte on the Manhattan singles scene became a quasi-religion, something women cherished as their own and geeked out about to each other. Like Star Wars, SATC managed to turn narratives into product, inspiring cravings for Vuitton bags and Blahnik shoes as powerful as lightsaber envy. Also like Star Wars (and unusually for a chick flick), the project has generated its very own rumour mill and spoiler culture, creating a sense of trepidation among its huge following. Will someone die? Will one of the couples break up? Can a 135-minute reunion do justice to characters nurtured over 94 episodes?
The good news, then, is that SATC: The Movie replicates everything that’s great about the TV show, in particular its breathless flitting between relationship realities and romantic wish-fulfilment. There are the laugh-out-loud moments (a randy dog, a touch of the turistas, and sushi as a sex aid), the bawdy sex romps (surprisingly Samantha doesn’t get the raunchiest scene) and the fashionista wet dreams (Mr. Big builds Carrie an enormodrome of a closet). But the skill of the writing and performances allows these elements to co-exist alongside a moving portrait of the pangs of love and friendship. The TV show has a generous, unabashed love of human frailty, and the movie has it in spades too.
New to the mix is a likable Jennifer Hudson as Carrie’s assistant. Also new is an older, if not necessarily wiser, quartet. These women are no longer interested in finding the latest nightspot, and the film makes comic use of the shift in priorities: one of the girls’ trademark let’s-all-talk-about-sex brunches is given a new spin by the presence of Charlotte’s adopted daughter, the dialogue exploring a childish euphemism to the full. Indeed, the best parts of the movie are often the moments when you just get to hang with the characters. It helps that the cast have a back-of-the-hand intimacy, the best scenes going to Parker and Nixon who find touching depth in the darker moments.
In many respects, Sex And The City has more in common with an old-school George Cukor “woman’s picture” than, say, The Devil Wears Prada or 27 Dresses, interweaving female centric tales of fidelity, heartbreak and forgiveness rather than relying on mad-dash-for-the-airport antics. What it misses, though, is Cukor’s grace as a storyteller. Writer-director King, a stalwart of the TV show, makes little of the opportunities offered by the big screen - a detour to Mexico lacks visual flavour - where a more courageous choice might have reflected the high style of the fashions in the filmmaking. Equally disappointing is that the film sells short its menfolk - a misconception about the TV series - forcing them to behave in cruel ways just to keep the plot machinations going. But ultimately for the fanbase, this delivers a superior episode of the show. And surely it’s unrealistic to expect any more?
If you are immune to the charms of Carrie and co., this will do little to convert you. Still, it has more than enough sass, style and sentiment to keep the faithful satisfied. Add a star if youre a fan.