Monday 7 February 2011


The follow up to Paris, Je T'aime is out now on DVD.
Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Told via a series of unconnected short films, New York, I Love You tells the stories of a group of people living in the Big Apple. All the characters have varied lives, and through their eyes we learn more about the true meaning of love and what it means to be a New Yorker. Supposedly.

This is what's known as a portmanteau film, not just because it's a series of films that combine to create a larger meaning, but seemingly because they're always somehow related to Natalie Portman. Here she follows up her appearance in Paris Je T'aime by both acting in one and directing another of the installments.

In my humble opinion, New York is the most cinematic city in the world. Perhaps it's down to a love of Woody Allen movies, but the sidewalks, the buildings, the culture... I've been known to watch bad films, purely because they were set in the five boroughs. Sadly, this is one of them.

Whereas its predecessor brought us a separated list of short films all based on the many sections (or arrondissements) that combine to create Paris as a whole, here it's a lot more loosely structured, the stories often intertwining with one another. As you'd expect with any short film collection, the individual directions and performances vary wildly, and the quality of the films is very uneven.

With it being slightly 'arty' fare, some of the stars have chosen to play against type (Shia LaBeouf's appearance is particularly baffling), whereas others put in crushingly bland performances (Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson). The Eli Wallach/Cloris Leachman segment has a sweetly romantic charm to it, but most fail to encapsulate the attitude of real New Yorkers. The Brett Ratner directed Prom segment is darkly comic, but it's got sod all to do with New York City.

Lacking anything approaching the quality of Alexander Payne's excellent closer to the Paris set film, the only thing that's memorable about this follow up is the confused headache you'll feel when it's over. Unfortunately, this is a prime case of creative over-indulgence, spending far too long showing off about its multi-culturalism and completely failing to stick to its two main themes; love and the city.

I wasn't expecting (or hoping for) a glorified tourism video, but to create a film that's essentially a love letter to New York, and then to not feature the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty is criminal. If you're a New Yorkophile this  can create an annoyingly unsatisfying watch. In his short segment the very British Orlando Bloom looks on at the Dakota Building, but it's from frustratingly afar. Some use is made of the City's mass transit system, but it's a decidedly landmark free film.

Perhaps if they'd have borrowed the system used for its Paris counterpart and created five short stories based around the five boroughs, I'd be able to report a better outcome; but as it stands New York, I Love You is an unsatisfying attempt to capture what makes the greatest city in the world, 'The Greatest City In The World'. Do yourself a favour and watch Woody Allen's Manhattan instead.


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