Sex and the City
Generation X. We’re just not all that successful when it comes to relationships, are we? Or at least that’s GenX’s image in popular culture. But no, I think it’s probably a pretty accurate image. We marry later, we live alone more than any generation before us, and when we are with someone, we can’t get it to work half the time.
And it ain’t just American Xers, either.
Portraits Chinois (Shadowplay) plays like a less-
And then there’s Guido (Sergio Castellitto), Paul’s screenwriting partner, who’s obsessed with the sexually demanding Stéphanie (Emmanuelle Escourrou) — Paul tries to set him up with Lise, to get her off his back. There’s Emma (Elsa Zylberstein), who struggles with her lack of self-
Ada and Paul’s is the centerpiece relationship of Portraits Chinois, though, and her uncertainty about their future together comes to a head eventually at a moment of crisis — a crisis to which Paul responds in a manner Ada was not expecting. At this point, the film starts to wander a bit aimlessly — what was a frothy and fairly light comedy of manners now loses direction as Ada explores the funk the collapse of her relationship with Paul has left her in. The film finds its way again at the end, however, in time to see Paul transform their meltdown into artistic success with a script that replicates, with a happier ending, their romantic wrong turns.
Director Martine Dugowson — who wrote Portraits Chinois with Peter Chase — likes the idea of creative success and frustration coinciding with romantic success and frustration, and we watch the fortunes of this group of friends rise and fall with their libidos. Despite the subtitles, Portraits Chinois tells a story that’s instantly recognizable to anyone living and working and loving, or trying to, in a big city.
With its universally appealing story and healthy dash of sexual byplay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Portraits Chinois remade in Hollywood. But like much of Hollywood’s output, I found it mildly diverting and ultimately forgettable.