This film really is a valentine to the Big Apple.
Those of us who are also enamored with its majestic skyline, expansive
diversity, frenetic pace, close-quartered anonymity, explosive economy,
buoyant culture, vibrant nightlife, aggressive traffic, and constant cacophony
will also just enjoy the multi-faceted urban scenery.
This is one of those “ensemble” movies that employs many well-known
actors, providing us with a long procession of “slice of life” vignettes,
sometimes revisiting, occasionally interacting, but not really intended to
come together neatly at the end. Really,
it’s just people being people: a
retailer and a wholesaler bargaining about a ring.
A man and woman meeting outside a restaurant, smoking, and striking up
a conversation that may or may not lead to further encounter.
An old artist asks a young woman minding a store to model for him, and
she, at once repulsed and flattered, struggles between her ambition and her
inhibition. Two guys hop in the
same cab at the same time and both try to badger the driver into going their
way first, even demanding which route to take, until the driver, after first
offering a solution that both reject, summarily orders them both out of his
A teenage boy, his girlfriend just having ditched him, reluctantly
accepts a blind date for the prom, then is flabbergasted when she answers the
door in a wheelchair.
Yes, in “The City That Never Sleeps”
there are millions of stories. This
film tries to tell a few of them, seemingly randomly, and to no apparent
purpose, other than just a window into “a day in the life” for each.
The difficulty with presenting so many scenarios is that some are bound
to be uneven, and they are. Sometimes
the acting just soars, and other times, it fails to gets off the ground.
Sometimes you just want to stay in that scene longer, to see what
happens next, and other times you can’t wait until it’s over so you can
move on to something else. And,
of course, the inherent difficulty with so many characters appearing on the
screen is that we don’t get to develop a particular affection for any of
them, so there is nobody to really “root for” here.
Other than the type of film itself.
They’ll love it in film school.
Less so at the box office. Particularly
in the dreaded “Heartland,” where all the fat bumpkins, thickheaded oafs,
and uncultured dimwits reside, including, alas, yours truly.
Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace