Film Review: New York, I Love You
New York, I Love You is the second in a series of "collective films" conceived by producer Emmanuel Benbihy, coming on the heels of Paris je t'aime (2006).
Benbihy explains, “My idea was always to make a collection of movies that would illustrate the universal idea of love around the world. I started with Paris because that is where I am from, but I always intended to do something similar for all the mythic cities, of which New York of course had to be a part. New York is a city that has the potential to make anybody who sees it start to dream."
It's an ambitious concept, and works here - or not - depending on your expectations. If you're a reader, this is an anthology of short, short stories with a loose theme, not a novel that explores anything in depth, vignettes which really skim the surface of both the city and the romantic premise. It's entertaining, but I'm not sure the city itself even comes off as "mythic".
Directed by a string of emerging directors from around the world, the filming itself had to obey a series of rules:
- Each story had to be visually identified with one or more New York neighborhoods;
- Each story had to involve some kind of love encounter, broadly defined;
- There would be no fades to black at end or beginning of any segment.
Once the stories were chosen, there were another set of rules, including a strict schedule of shooting each segment for only 2 days, and editing for only 7.
It's all quite interesting, but the result is a film that meanders around Manhattan following the momentary interactions which happen largely on the sidewalks, or the classic NYC bar/resto — of which there are surely a zillion lining the city's streets.
The vignettes are uneven in approach, quality and effect, a few rather beautiful and poetic, like Julie Christie as a faded opera star who takes a bit of a trip with bellhop Shia LaBeouf in an Upper East Side hotel, (directed by Shekhar Kapur from a script by Anthony Minghella) to Ethan Hawke as a fast talker trying to pick up Maggie Q, which comes off as an extended joke with a predictable punchline, (if you know who Maggie Q is, in particular).Continued on the next page