Love Comes to The Big Apple

New York, I Love You 3.5 out of 4 stars

New York, I Love You is a collection of short films that depict various love stories found in New York City. Based on the same concept as its 2006 predecessor, Paris, Je’taime, the movie is the product of several contributions by different directors that ultimately creates a montage of love stories in one film.

The film takes a New York approach to love, with a “nothing is impossible” theme that pervades the 10 out-of-the-ordinary scenarios (each shot in two days) located throughout the city.

For that reason, New York exceeds the predictability of an American love story and the mushy sensitivity of a chick flick.

The long list of big names that appear in the film, including Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Bradley Cooper and Blake Lively, adds to the movie’s hype but does not take away from the small love stories. The list of participating directors boasts more recognition, with international contributions from Yvan Attal, Mira Nair and Sherak Kaphur. Actress Natalie Portman also makes her directing debut.

The movie hits on every type of love, from multicultural to whimsical to paternal to intergenerational. One of the beginning stories plays on the idea of interracial relationships, with Natalie Portman playing a Jewish bride-to-be who haggles with a widowed East Indian diamond broker in a shop within the Diamond District. Their intimate meeting results in each character having culture-specific fancies of Yiddish and Hindu love which remain nothing more than fantasies.

A comedic highlight of the film is Brett Ratner’s piece which depicts the story of a young man (Anton Yelchin) who takes his pharmacist’s daughter (Olivia Thrilby) to his high school prom at Tavern on the Green. After finding out that she is in a wheelchair, he expects to be doomed to a night of disappointment. However, her disability becomes something that makes his night even more special.

Portman directs a bittersweet short about a Latino father who becomes mistaken for a “manny” (a male nanny) to his Caucasian-looking daughter. In spite of his modern dancing, the father shows the masculine side of parenthood by loyally visiting his daughter while dealing with her ungrateful mother.

Attal’s contribution comes in the form of an explicit yet charming pickup attempt by a writer (Ethan Hawke) whose interesting wordplay fails to get a married woman (Maggie Q) into bed.

Although the film showcases distinct tales of romance, several mini-movies leave room for confusion. In the piece by Kapur that takes place in a posh New York City hotel, a crippled bellhop (Shia Labeouf) admires a retired opera singer (Julie Christie) who is nearly twice his age. The artistic camera angles separate imagination from reality, but blur the relationship between the two. This is especially evident when Labeouf falls to his death and an older bellhop materializes, using the same dialogue as his younger counterpart.

One of the more endearing segments of the film comes towards the end, when an elderly couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman) take a stroll to Brighton Beach, bickering with the experienced love of 63-year marriage.

Overall, the film represents the idea of love in New York as far-fetched but yet as yet simple as the multiple plots it depicts.

Even if audiences do not enjoy the film, some New Yorkers will appreciate it because of the familiar sights and distinguishable characters.

Whether depicting the love between two strangers, a father and a daughter, a painter and a subject, or a husband and a wife, the same traits of understanding, affection and sacrifice are consistent throughout the entire film. The movie has audiences caring for each other as much as they do for New York, a place where anything can happen.