Following on from Paris, je t'aime, this is an anthology of short films, joining several love stories set in one of the most loved cities of the world, New York.
This follow-up to Paris, je t'aime may suffer from the inevitable inconsistency of any anthology movie, but it marks a more textured alternative to the overly slick mainstream romantic comedy Valentine's Day, which recently covered similar ground.
It’s not hard to get excited about the cinematic potential of a series of short stories about romance set in the most famous city in the world, and all the location shooting is a pleasure to behold. But the vignettes themselves veer wildly between light charm and severe pretension.
Natalie Portman radiates in her role as a young Hasidic bride to be who bonds with an Indian diamond merchant (Irrfan Khan – Slumdog Millionaire) in one of the stronger segments, directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding). Portman herself writes and directs another segment, which doesn’t sing quite as loudly.
Bradley Cooper from The Hangover and Drea De Matteo from The Sopranos achieve a rough poignancy in their segment, and James Caan is appealing playing a down to earth character for the first time in ages. His segment is the sweetest thing Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour movies) has directed in a while.
An ‘old couple’ segment featuring screen legend Eli Wallach (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly) is overly cute, while Shia LaBeouf and Julie Christie get all ponderous in their near-insufferable vignette.
The stories don’t all gel together as well as they might, but there’s still enough going on here to elicit a smile or two.