Sexual Activity and the City: Comedy-drama. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Artemis Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Chris Noth. Directed by Michael Saint Patrick King. (R. 145 minutes. At Bay Area theaters. For complete film lists and show times, and to purchase tickets for choice theaters, travel to sfgate.com/movies.)
Fans of "Sex and the City" will love the film version.
Like the HBO series that gave birth to it, the film is tons of fun, but it's no frivolous romp. The show's great ambition, always present, goes even more than marked in the film - to document the emotional life and values of cosmopolite women of a peculiar generation. It's as if its Godheads realized the series' significance over the course of study of its run, and that displacement in the way of importance - subtle, but definite - goes on with this movie. Under the levity, there's a core earnestness about presenting these women's lives, one emphasized by the willingness of "Sex and the City" to turn and mature along with its characters.
Those who cognize these fictional characters will, of course, choice up on niceties and associations that novitiates volition miss. Yet even viewing audience coming in cold volition appreciate "Sex and the City" as the best American film about women so far this year, and probably the best that will be made this year. Indeed, at the charge per unit Film Industry have been going, it may stand up as the best women's film until "Sex and the City II," if that ever come ups along.
Coming in, Michael Saint Patrick King, the movie's writer-director, had two hard tasks: He had to present the fictional characters to a new audience without irritating fans of the show, and he had to take a series that ended perfectly and un-end it, without apparent arbitrary.
He strike hards off the first undertaking easily, (re-)introducing the principals during a credits sequence narrated by the chief character, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), a best-selling author in New House Of York City. There's Samantha Mother Jones (Kim Cattrall), a successful publicizer with a famished sexual appetite. There's Charlotte House Of York (Kristin Davis), a gentle, princess-like wife and mother. And there's Miranda Thomas Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), a lawyer and buttoned-down cynic, living in Brooklyn with her hubby and son.
Un-ending the perfectly ended series takes a small more than time. For the first 10 proceedings or so, the film hovers in place, emphasizing (and, for first-timers, introducing) the position quo. But then, the gearing gradually travel into place. Four old age have got passed. Carrie is still seeing "Mr. Big" - whose name is now revealed to be Toilet Jesse James Preston (Chris Noth) - and the two make up one's mind to acquire married. This soon turns into programs for the manner matrimony of the century, with a invitee listing of 200 and a gown by Vivienne Westwood. But, of course, things can't go on too smoothly.
Meanwhile, Samantha is dissatisfied with her life in Los Angeles, even though she is still in love with her much-younger boyfriend, Ian Smith (Jason Lewis), and Miranda and her impossibly sweet husband, Steve (David Eigenberg), are having matrimony trouble. Though the laughters are frequent and the film sparks with flashiness and fashion, an air of middle-aged disappointment is sometimes present, a realisation of limits, of having to take between imperfect options.
Suddenly, the women are most definitely in their 40s, and so their interaction with little women is different, erstwhiles long-suffering, sometimes almost motherly. Carrie takes on a personal helper (Jennifer Hudson, who's charming) and gives her sisterlike advice, the hard-earned wisdom of 20 old age in the New House Of York trenches. The mature vibe shows that "Sex and the City" is rubber band and capable of bringing in new elements of women's experience.
It times in at a brawny 145 minutes, but all that agency is that it's wish watching five episodes of the television show in succession. Think of it not as a long film but as the equivalent of an full television season muscled into one large megadose.
The allocation of silver screen clip never looks obviously apportioned, but each actress acquires a opportunity to shine. Charlotte's life is the most stable in this installment, but Davys have some of the best amusing moments, and Cattrall demoes a flimsy mellowing (and a definite deepening) in Samantha. As Miranda, Richard Nixon is just brilliant, presenting her as person increasingly locked into the forms of her ain personality, less hopeful and verging on bitterness. At the same time, underneath it, she's painfully sensitive.
Parker is lovely, alive to every nicety of feeling, her confront the film's venue of meaning. Her deficiency of amour propre is becoming. When Carrie acquires beaten up emotionally, Charlie Parker lets herself to look round up. In one's 40s, a individual doesn't take an emotional whipping and aftermath up the adjacent morning time looking as fresh as a 20-year-old. Charlie Parker allows us see Carrie's, and her own, true face.
There's something alive here. There's a feeling about this movie, that it's not some perfunctory cinematic appendix to a popular series, but the beginning of a whole new twine of films. There's certainly no artistic ground "Sex and the City" can't be the women's equivalent of "Star Trek," with human emotion being the concluding frontier. Like outer space, that frontier is infinite.
-- Advisory: This movie incorporates strong linguistic communication and nudity.
E-mail Paddy Sieur de LaSalle at .