Wednesday, June 11, 2008

thoughts on the sex and the city movie ( ps dont read if you dont want to know the ending to Sex and the City)

So last night I saw the Sex and the City movie for the second time (this is not a rare occurrence for me, I love repeat movie watching, partly because I just love going to the movies period and also because I think movies show their true selves upon second viewing), and something disturbing happened. Mind you, it had nothing to do with the movie. It actually happened before I even walked into the movie, as I stood waiting for one of my best friends Jessica. I stood near the bathrooms with a tub of popcorn in one hand and an obscenely large diet coke in the other (I also can't resist the concession stand at the theater-go ahead, mock me if you must-call me a mindless, consumer driven lemming, a moron who will spend ten dollars for what should only cost two at best- but a movie going experience just isn't a movie going experience without some movie theater popcorn and a soda). Anyway, as I was waiting I noticed a group of four twenty-something women standing near me. They had obviously just come from Sex and the City because they were discussing the ending (loudly I might add which is a little rude to do when you know people are walking past who haven't seen the movie). But I digress. One of these women says, "I feel so bad for Samantha, everyone else got a happy ending."
There I was happily eating my hydrogenated corn oil popcorn, and suddenly I was enraged. I almost said something right there in the lobby. I wanted to ask her why she thought Samantha's ending seemed unhappy. Because if you haven't seen the movie (and don't read if you don't want to know) Samantha is the only one of the four gals to end the movie single. Yet as the credits roll she is not alone, crying into her cosmo. She is not remorseful or regretful or any way sad. I personally think Samantha's ending makes the movie what it is, and that is an extremely satisfying new conclusion to the series I loved so much. The television show ended with all of the women paired off with men. Yes friendship was emphasized, blah blah blah. But to have Samantha, perpetually, ferociously single Samantha, end things with a man seemed completely wrong for the character and the show. SATC at its best emphasizes that women today should have the choice about whether to be single or married, that it's not pathetic to be single at 39 or to be married with kids at 39. And I loved Smith. But really? It seemed like something close to a cop out. And when the movie was advertised I was really scared. Because in the previews it seemed to be yet another marriage romantic comedy. I pictured a whole movie devoted to Carrie's marriage preparations with Big. What happened to the show I adored, one first and foremost about female friendship and coming to terms with what it means to be on your own?
So imagine my surprise when the movie turned out to be, gasp, primarily about female friendship. Yes the men are in it, but they're clearly secondary. Sex and the City the movie as a traditional romantic comedy would have been like Carrie outfitted in actually affordable clothes, i.e. all wrong. But instead it's a movie about these women, not a movie about women in terms of the men in their lives. I teared up when Big ruins Carrie's perfect wedding and then gains her forgiveness, but I teared up more when Carrie runs through the snow to spend New Year's Eve with Miranda. There are so many stories about male friendships, but it's fairly rare in most movies for female friendships to take center stage. And if female friendships are front and center, than almost always it's because one female is the spunky sidekick to another female who is chasing after/being chased by a man. And yes, three of the four women in this movie end up in relationships, but unlike in so many romantic movies, it doesn't feel like they end up with men just because audiences expect it. Carrie and Miranda fall in love again on their terms, not because they're desperately fighting against impending forties singledom. And then there's Samantha. One of my favorite parts of this movie is that Samantha realizes she would rather be alone, that she's happier being alone than being in a relationship. Because if you've watched the show you know it's right for her. So the fact that this woman in the movie theater lobby pitied Samantha's character makes me nervous that a lot of women out there had or will have that reaction. Because that means you don't get the movie or these characters. But more than that it means that the thought of an unhappy but married fifty year old woman is more welcome than the thought of a happy, decidedly single one. And that, well that means a whole heck of a lot more that I don't have the time or energy to get into right now. I'm sure some people hated the movie. And all of this is just my opinion. But in my opinion, the movie managed to do what I was sure it would not be able to. First of all it finished the stories of characters I love in what I thought was exactly the right way. And more than that, it did so in true Sex and the City fashion, as a story primarily, predominantly, definitively about women who are never defined by anyone but themselves.

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