The second installment in the Cities of Love series produced by Emmanuel Benbihy isn’t quite as gleefully creative as its predecessor, Paris, je t’aime (must be something in the water in France that gives a Euro-version of this gimmick that extra edge), but it still serves as an enjoyable valentine to a city that Hollywood can’t help but often romanticize to the point where it becomes completely unrecognizable. Actually, the New York City that wouldn’t be caught dead appearing in a Woody Allen movie is occasionally on display in this collection of ten short films that explore various romantic entanglements across the five boroughs; if nothing else, New York, I Love You deserves credit for sometimes showcasing the city’s grittier, weirder side that’s usually very, very difficult to get just right. By its very nature, this couldn’t ever be more than the sum of its parts, making for a viewing experience filled with fits and starts; thankfully, none of the shorts overstay their welcome (for the most part) — except for maybe Shekhar Kapur’s truly horrendous hotel-set nonsense starring Julie Christie and Shia LaBeouf, the latter sporting an inexplicable Eastern European accent that makes the scenario come off like a Saturday Night Live sketch. As is usually the case with these kinds of anthology films, the cast is particularly impressive, with the ensemble including Natalie Portman (who also writes and directs a segment), Bradley Cooper, Hayden Christensen, Blake Lively, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright, James Caan and Christina Ricci. Stay tuned for future installments, which will reportedly be set in Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem and Venice, before heading to Berlin and New Orleans.
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