Six Degrees of Sex in the City
I really wanted to like "Sidewalks of New York", no I really wanted to enjoy it with it's storyline of 6 people living in Manhattan through various matters of romance interlink. It's the sort of thing I enjoy as connections form between various people and they all link together in a six degrees of separation type way. But sadly I didn't enjoy "Sidewalks of New York" or at least I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped because whilst at times clever it almost feels like a movie without a point. That may sound daft because what this movie comes across as is a faux documentary style look at love, romance and sex in the lives of 6 people who live in Manhattan yet it doesn't seem to have a central story to link it together. Instead we get a bit about the first person and then the next person and whilst these characters interlink it sort of floats between each one as it establishes the links. "Sidewalks of New York" is still a good movie and one which to enjoy you need to approach with an open mind but it just feels like half a movie.
Having just broken up with his girlfriend, Tommy (Edward Burns - Saving Private Ryan) a TV producer is encouraged by his friend Carpo (Dennis Farina) to get straight out there and find another woman. And Tommy does when he meets Maria (Rosario Dawson) in a video store and they share a brief romance which ends up failing due to Maria struggling to commit to a man following her divorce from Ben (David Krumholtz - The Mexican). Ben who is also struggling to move on from Maria despite having been unfaithful to her finds himself falling for Ashley (Brittany Murphy), a 19 year old waitress he meets. But the trouble is that Ashley is having an affair with 39 year old dentist Griffin (Stanley Tucci) and whilst she wants more than just their meetings in hotel rooms isn't sure whether Ben is right for her. Griffin's affair isn't going unnoticed especially by his wife Annie (Heather Graham - Lost in Space) who just happens to be the estate agent who is helping Tommy to find a new apartment and starts getting close to him.
So as already mentioned "Sidewalks of New York" is what I would call a faux documentary as we have a faceless interviewer talking to 6 different people about their relationships, sex life and romantic notions much of which takes place on the streets of Manhattan. And leading on from each of these interviews we then get a scene or two which basically reiterates what that person said in the interview. Now on one level this isn't that unusual and the 6 characters we meet whose lives end up interlinking are almost a stereotypical bunch of characters with various hang ups from commitment issues to infidelity. But there is a bit of cleverness to this side of things an unseen depth where a couple of characters say one thing to the interviewer but then do the exact opposite highlighting they are not leading the lives they want.
Stereotypical also extends to the styling of "Sidewalks of New York" and with the use of street interviews, hand held cameras and harsh edits there is something very Woody Allen about the movie. In fact Ed Burns who not only acts but also wrote, directed and produced "Sidewalks of New York" seems to be trying to emulate Woody Allen's style but adding touches of himself to it. And to be honest it works, the rawness of this faux documentary draws you in and you get a sense that maybe he allowed the actors to improv scenes rather than sticking to a script, giving it that stuttering edgy feeling of real life especially during emotional scenes.
But the thing is that whilst each of these characters has a story about love and sex as we watch their lives interlink often in a slightly amusing way it feels like it is lacking something. And that something is a purpose, a point, a central storyline which the stories link to and feed off of. In a way the storyline about Tommy and his romantic trials and tribulations are the closest that "Sidewalks of New York" comes to having a main storyline but it is not strong enough. And so it ends up feeling like it is floating through these various stories bringing closure to each but not the movie. It's a weird feeling and spoils it slightly, spoils what could have been a clever and amusing faux documentary instead of one which occasionally struggles to hold your attention.
Despite this all the performances are good even if the characters border on being caricature like. Heather Graham as Annie impresses as the wife who discovers her husband has been cheating on her and Rosario Dawson is equally impressive as Maria who struggles with closeness and commitment in her first relationship since being divorced. And whilst his character may border on being comically wrong David Krumholtz is fun to watch especially as he tries to woo Ashley played by Brittany Murphy. But the scene stealer is Stanley Tucci who mixes drama with comedy as the cheating Griffin who finds himself in a complex over the size of his manhood.
What this all boils down to is that "Sidewalks of New York" is a good movie and quite quirky with it's faux documentary look at the lives of 6 Manhattan residents. But sadly because it doesn't really have a strong central story it ends up feeling incomplete and that causes it to almost float between the interlinking characters and stories without ever having a real purpose.