New York, I Love You review - Having wheeled out the big (directorial) guns for Paris, Je T’Aime, producer Emmanuel Benbihy calls on the B-team for this New York-based continuation of his ‘Cities Of Love’ franchise.
Indeed, the only significant hold-over from that 2006 effort is Natalie Portman, here contributing both behind and in front of the camera to a compilation of shorts united only by location and theme.
The reasoning behind the portmanteau film – if you don’t like the piece you’re watching there’ll be another one along shortly – is perfectly sound. But it does presume some quality variation, something rendered moot by New York’s unremitting blandness.
With the exception of Shekhar Kapur’s offering – a dreamlike fable written by Anthony Minghella and featuring Shia LaBeouf as a crippled bellhop tending to a suicidal Julie Christie – the different segments feel safe.
It says something when the pick of the bunch – Anton Yelchin’s saucy prom-night romp with Olivia Thirlby, who isn’t quite as she first appears to be – is directed by that most celebrated of auteurs Brett Ratner.
That section, like many others, revolves around some form of deception, dissembling or pretence, a tactic that becomes less surprising the more it’s reprised.
In fact you can pretty much depend on no-one being who they seem, be they the apparent victim of pickpocket Hayden Christensen (Andy Garcia), the middle-aged diner chatting with Robin Wright on the sidewalk (Chris Cooper) or the statuesque beauty Ethan Hawke attempts to pick up (Maggie Q).
It’s certainly a starry affair, something that might be a draw in itself to those who relish the thought of seeing Portman as an Orthodox Jewish bride or Orlando Bloom as a musician.
In truth, alas, it’s the film itself that’s short of ideas.