Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative
Directed by: Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kaphur, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston and Randy Balsmeyer
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Hayden Christensen, Ethan Hawke, Andy Garcia, Robin Wright, Chris Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Bradley Cooper
Made in the same format as its predecessor Paris Je T’aime, New York, I Love You (also from the same producer, Emmanuel Benbithy) comprises of eleven short stories, individually written and directed by a bevy of art-house filmmakers, each telling a tale of love in New York City. Starring a constellation of recognisable and talented actors – including Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Hayden Christensen, Ethan Hawke, Andy Garcia, Robin Wright, Chris Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Bradley Cooper, and Natalie Portman (who also directed a story), just to name a few – the sequence of short films offers great promise; however, I am not entirely convinced that they deliver.
The problem with asking your audience to get emotionally involved with such a large array of characters, is that their limited screen time tends to also hinder your ability to connect with them. Unlike previous films that have worked the multiple story line concept to varying degrees of success (such as the adaptation of the New York Trilogy, Smoke and Blue in the Face), New York, I love You is let down by not having a core group of recurring characters to carry the theme throughout the scattered stories that don’t quite coalesce in making up the film. This strategy, I feel, could have really brought this collection of stories together.
Much like a patchwork quilt, there are elements that are really attractive, and others that are not so. I found the octogenarian tale of love at Brighton Beach to be my favourite, as it was both heartwarming and romantic – you don’t need a great deal of screen time with this couple to fall in love with them. For similar reasons, tales such as that of the retired Opera singer in the Upper East Side needed further time to really develop the character, and as a result, you were left feeling somewhat isolated from the emotional core of the story.
But the true hero and protagonist of the film, and the one character who is given adequate time for us to get to know and enjoy, was New York City herself. From the gritty Chinatown to the elegant Upper East Side, to the hip and vibrant Greenwich Village, a smorgasbord of the various facets and images of the city was placed at your perusal. There’s little doubt that New York is an intensely memorable and wondrous character, but with such a host of both acting and filmmaking talent involved, I must confess that the end product, the film, seemed almost a waste of its rich promise.
With further films in development for cities such as Rio and Shanghai, one can only hope that the ‘Cities of Love’ series spends a little more time developing a smaller number of quality tales. The concept itself has potential, but if it fails to connect with audiences it risks becoming a very expensive exercise in promoting tourism.
Category: Film & TV