Following producer Emmanuel Benbihy’s concept behind the other city plus love film Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I Love You) in 2006, New York, I Love You is a collection of vignettes by notable filmmakers and actors based around the subject of falling in love in the city that never sleeps. It also touches on love for the city itself in some of the segments.
While most of the stories work and are interesting, some feel out of place and go nowhere. Brett Ratner’s tale of a teenage romp-with-a-twist starring James Caan and Anton Yelchin is cute and quirky. Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo hooking up after a drunken night at a bar in Allen Hughes’s cool feature is fun, and Ethan Hawke gives a great performance as an egotistical writer hitting on the wrong woman (Maggie Q) while sharing a smoke outside a restaurant. But Shekhar Kapur’s contribution about an aging singer (Julie Christie) reflecting in a hotel suite with a bellboy (Shia LaBeouf) is dry and drags on longer than it should. And Natalie Portman’s mixed-religion fantasy has its moments but leaves the audience wanting more.
Other intriguing moments include a thief (Hayden Christensen) being outsmarted by an older man (Andy Garcia) yet still getting the girl (Rachel Bilson), a young musician (Orlando Bloom) who needs a muse (Christina Ricci) to help him focus on finishing the score he’s working on, and a cute older couple (Cloris Leachman and Eli Wallach) celebrating their anniversary.
What I found most interesting about New York, I Love You is who’s absent from the film, notably Woody Allen. Allen has made a career out of inspired love stories set in NYC (Annie Hall and Manhattan for example) and I’m sure fitting in a narrative by him would have rounded out the collection nicely. Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese would have been great additions too.
If you’re a fan of New York and romance is your genre, you’ll probably enjoy New York, I Love You a lot. One thing’s for sure — it will make you want to pay the town a visit.
*** out of 5 stars
Top image: A scene from New York, I Love You. Courtesy E1 Entertainment.