SPOILER ALERT* * SPOILER ALERT* * SPOILER ALERT**
I've been anticipating the SATC film like a man anticipates his next nut. I love SATC. LOVE it. The title of my blog is a take on an episode title in season three. I own every episode on DVD. I have framed Carrie Bradshaw posters in my house. I have books. I can recite entire scenes on command and when I watch the DVDs, I watch with commentary to make sure I get all the nuances. When I tell you I love this show, Ilove it.
It pains me to say this, but frankly, the movie sucked. (I acknowledge that as a former book editor, I can be harsh on plot lines.)
Charlotte had no plot line. She soiled herself (which was sophomoric humor and out of place) and was afraid that her life would be too perfect, which she promptly got over 2 minutes later. The End. She had one grand moment where she played Carrie's protector that was pretty damn good (never said she was a bad actress), but otherwise eh...
Samantha realized he had to be the star in a relationship (surprise, surprise) and she's living in LA flying back to NYC at any given whim because she’s not being fulfilled by Smith. Her repeated arrival in NYC felt very repetitive. I didn't understand why everyone was so excited to see her if she was always there. She finally leaves Smith in a very odd break-up scene and tells him that he will find someone. He asks her, “what about you?” And I wish their break up had come earlier so that answer could have been explored. I didn’t really get what was next for Samantha. If he wasn’t fulfilling, I’m with her on finding someone who is. But what fulfills her? It’s never really said. I started to get what the naysayers of the show were saying when it was still on HBO. I think slighting them for trying to figure out love and life in their mid 30s was premature. But at 49, which Samantha is in the movie, I thought she would have it more together. It seemed unrealistic that her character hadn't grown at all. If that same criticism is made of the movie now, I agree.
Miranda probably had the best plot-- starting out at least. Steve cheated and she bounced. But that's not enough conflict to carry a 2.5 hour film. Midway through when the film repeatedly showed how depressed and regretful Steve was, it was pretty clear he was a good guy who did a fucked up thing instead of a fucked up guy given to occasional moments of granduer. Miranda seemed more like a bitch for being so hard on him than he did for cheating. (Perhaps I feel this way because cheating is not an automatic deal breaker for me.) But Miranda’s in full on bitch mode in the first part of the film, more consumed with work than her family and they aren’t having sex. It was pretty clear why Steve cheated. I kept waiting for her to see her own role in their demise.
Now for the nitty gritty. Big offers Carrie a half assed proposal early on sort of like an 'ok, we can get married if that's what you want.' She accepts this for whatever reason and runs wild with it. Later, he leaves her at the altar for a bullshit reason: he needs reassurance that it’s just him and her. I didn’t get where that was coming from. She doesn’t answer her phone on the day of the wedding and so he arrives at the church, sees her, but never gets out of the car to ask for the reassurance he needs, then tips on out with a phone call to say he’s not ready.
The writer's try to redeem him by giving him a quick change of heart, but I'm sorry that's not enough for me. They've been off again/ on again for ten friggin' years and consistent for about four, he still can't make up his mind about what he wants? And he's a grown ass man? You tell a woman you're not showing up for the wedding and you're the groom? And you expect that you can change your mind after you've said that? Huh?
Carrie, of course, falls into an understandable deep depression and a good chunk of the film is just painful to watch. She’s in agony and trying to get her life back in order post-Big. If this was the first time this had happened, maybe I would have understood the ending better, but this is like the third. The first time someone fucks up, you say shame on them. The second time, shame on you. The third? That’s still a shame on you. I kept wondering how many royal fuck ups do you give someone? At what point does it go from an incident to a coincidence to a sign of deep character flaws and a lack of respect and basic decency. At what point do you get that the relationship is dysfunctional and he is not the man for you?
So after she gets left at the altar, after she mourns and brings herself back from the brink, she encounters him and in a devastatingly odd turn of events, she accepts a marriage proposal. I literally LOUDLY said, “are you fucking kidding me?” in the theatre. I was too done. Now granted, he did make attempts to reconcile, but he never showed up or went looking for her the way Steve did for Miranda. He sent a few e-mails over a six month period. He left messages on her voicemail while she was on their honeymoon. But he never called the house or called the phone again after those initial gestures. The apology for the grand fuck up, should match the grandness of the fuck up (see Kobe and the four million dollar ring as example.) What Big gave gave her what was convenient for him to offer and it baffled me why she took it.
She marries him in the end in a move straight out of the Miranda Steve playbook. Low key, anti-climatic and simple. Which would have been fine if that was the type of girl that Carrie was, or if all that other BS hadn't come before it, but it just seemed to me like she settled for whatever he offered (again), which wasn’t much, just to have him. I wanted someone to tell her, maybe Jennifer Hudson as The Black Mammy, that she deserved better. Where was that friend like Ace or The Girl Across the Hall who sits you down and says what needs saying because it needs to be said?: you are playing yourself, selling yourself short. You can't keep doing this to yourself. You've got to stop now.
(A note about Hudson: I was happy to see a Black person in the cast, but frankly, I’m sick of seeing Black folk swoop in to fix white folk’s problematic lives. We have other uses, you know? Her plotline was completely underdeveloped.)
My girl, who liked the movie a lot, kept saying it was a Hollywood ending because everyone got what they wanted. I don’t agree. Hollywood gives you the belief that there’s happily ever after when you leave the theatre. I just got the feeling that Carrie fucked herself over (again) and she would have been better off alone. I don't think that because you are a good and groan adult that you have all the answers and can see everything clearly. But I think, I hope that by 40 folks would have the presence of mind to learn from thier past mistakes and at least see the pattern a little bit. And when they can't, that's what friends are for.
I wonder as I type this if her choices/actions were true to character and I’ve just grown up more since the show went off the air. That could be why I hated it so. I used to identify with Carrie's character so much. But I know I’ve changed. I walked away from a real love and though we speak every now and again, I know I can’t go back. He ain’t for me and I ain’t for him. When I see myself falling into that pattern or see Mr. Ex's traits in other people, I walk away. I kept wanting Carrie, at 40, to make the same realization: to finally acknowledge that she was in love with a flawed man, but understand that loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be with them. I kept wanting her to realizes that she deserved more than he offered. When he proposed, I was waiting for her to give a speech again about she was someone looking for love, the real and inconvenient type. I wanted her to show her self-value, to show that she had matured since Season 1. But she just said a disappointing “yes.”
All I could think was “why?”
After they’re wedded, her friends show up to congratulate her. I couldn’t have shown up to the party-- not even for Ace. There was nothing there worth celebrating.
HBO would have been better off letting the show just be. The ending to Season Six was tolerable (the alternative where she leaves Big was better); this movie made me hate one of my favorite characters.