New York, I kind of like you?
New York, I Love You interweaves the stories of a number of people and places in New York City, exploring the relationships between couples of all ages, artists and their muses, parents and their children and above all else New Yorkers and their beloved city.
Continuing in the tradition of 2006’s Paris, je t’aime the film is composed of 11 different segments from 11 different directors that don’t ever entirely sync with each other but share a few common characters and settings.
In this sense, the film does an excellent job of delving beyond the yellow taxis, flashing lights and skyscrapers of Manhattan and wrestles with the task of finding a balance between alienation and familiarity in a city of eight million people.
Some of the vignettes are amusing, like Natalie Portman’s directorial debut about the relationship between a young girl and her separated parents.
Others are simply cute, like Brett Ratner’s depiction of one boy’s high school prom experience which serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t always judge books by their covers; Faith Akin’s standout segment about the bonds between strangers portrays a tragic, yet heart-warming tale of an aging artist and a young woman who works in a Chinese herb shop.
On the other hand, some of the pieces fail to live up to their potential.
Director Shunji Iwai tells the story of a struggling soundtrack writer and the relationship he develops with his boss’ assistant over the phone through the works of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. Orlando Bloom plays the stressed song-smith who is in awe of John Lennon, but he isn’t really able to carry the clip opposite only Christina Ricci’s voice for most of the segment.
The scenes featuring Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo, directed by Allen Hughes, come off as unnecessarily raunchy – frankly, no one wants to watch 30-somethings making out in the back of a taxi.
Shekhar Kapur’s piece about an elderly singer revisiting a New York City hotel (featuring Julie Christie, Shia LeBeouf and John Hurt) is just bizarre.
Overall though, New York, I Love You is an entertaining watch for anyone who has a pre-existing fascination with the city, but the surprise twists at the end of each eight-minute story become tiresome, even annoying, after the first few.
Performances by Ethan Hawke, Maggie Q, Olivia Thirlby, eight-year-old Taylor Geare and 94-year-old Eli Wallach shine, and the portrayals of token New York jewellers, writers, thieves, filmmakers, hookers and actresses are performed without becoming cheesy or too stereotypical.
Nonetheless, the nature of the film alone produces an overly fragmented sense of plot and the vignettes are too inconsistent, detracting from what could have been an excellent follow-up to Paris, je t’aime.
New York, I Love You has two final screenings at the Princess Cinema tonight and tomorrow night at 9:15 p.m.