— by ALEXA MILAN —
Though I’ve never seen “Paris, Je T’aime,” an anthology of French short films that focuses on finding love and connection in Paris, I’d heard such good things about it that I was excited to see an American version, “New York, I Love You.” While some of the vignettes were moving and beautiful, others missed the mark.
“New York, I Love You” features 11 short films, each helmed by a different director, about relationships that form among people living the city’s five boroughs. Some are sexual and others are romantic. Some are about parents and children and others are about complete strangers. Some are cute, some are haunting, some are heartwarming and some are a bit depressing.
Though the film has several flaws, it also has some positives. The star-studded cast is essentially a who’s who of Hollywood, ranging from older heavyweights like Julie Christie and Chris Cooper to younger talent like Natalie Portman and Bradley Cooper.
The best vignette by far features the film’s oldest cast members, Cloris Leachman and Eli Wallach. It is a subtle and uplifting story about a couple who have been married for several decades, slowly strolling to the beach. Though they may not walk with as brisk of a pace as they once did, their love for each other hasn’t changed.
Surprisingly, one of my other favorite storylines was directed by Brett Ratner, with whom I am usually not impressed. His story of a young man’s first sexual encounter was funny and charming, emphasizing many of New York’s unique quirks and set against the backdrop of Central Park.
But other storylines didn’t flow as well. The opening segment featuring Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson (pictured above) was disjointed and awkward, and the segment featuring Shia LaBeouf and Christie, though beautifully shot and well acted, was confusing and didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the film.
While reviews I read of the movie made it sound like it would be a literal anthology of short films, one right after the other, the segments were actually interconnected through a filmmaker character, a tactic that ultimately dragged the film down.
The film was also hurt by the absence of one particular New York characteristic — diversity. Two segments do feature immigrant characters and one features an African-American character, but otherwise the large cast is almost entirely white. All of the love stories are also heterosexual, though the French original does feature a homosexual storyline. New York is a city with so much cultural, racial and sexual diversity that it felt odd for those elements to be missing.
“New York, I Love You” hits the mark in some segments and misses it in others, and the attempt to make the film flow better by interconnecting the stories actually makes it flow worse. I recommend waiting for the DVD, when viewers can pick and choose the segments they like.
Click here for 10 clips from “New York, I Love You.”
Follow Alexa Milan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexamilan.