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The No.1 Ladies Full Of Agency

SEX AND the City 2 is the bedrock of two baffling outcomes — invigorating the sleepy critic’s tongue with fresh vitriol and firmly entrenching the phenomenon of critic-proof blockbusters. Two years after her marriage to Mr Big, Carrie returns in the sequel with her pack of 40-plus friends in various states of midlife crisis. A thin layer of their marriage, parenthood and work issues is laid out before they are transported to Abu Dhabi to reenact the days of being single, which only series fans are missing more than the characters. So they drink, shop, talk and get all giddy-headed. The little there is of plot and conflict is frothy enough to dissolve in their perpetual glasses of champagne. The screenplay is underwritten — but if you give in, you might see it has the disposition of the holiday its characters take. The film is so easy it doesn’t even make you laugh out loud. Nor cry. All you have to do is lounge around in the comfort you share with these characters that have sauntered back into your life from a brilliant television series of yore. There is nothing this film takes seriously, least of all itself. It is in this context that the most acerbic charges leveled against it implode. And you are left marveling at the commitment of the sort of hyperdefensive postcolonial politics that will creep its way up even a slight evening of cocktails. Especially if there is the Middle East in the mix. One is not sure a film that ends with Carrie and her friends resorting to the burqa to catch a flight on time, was intended to voice any neo-feminist sentiments to begin with. But if that were true, here is a bunch pop-culture icons that travel into the country of the oppressed women and let them save their American selves for a change. In the spirit of irreverence there is a joke about eating French fries through the hijab. But no, they are not lampooning the Arabs anymore than they are lampooning themselves. If anything, they are debunking stereotypes of the victimised Muslim woman by wondering, however flippantly, if she is subject to less prejudice in the post-lib West. It’s not great cinema. But since when does that have anything to do with fun?

Originally published in Tehelka.

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