Rather than watch a movie and experience one director's cinematic rhapsody, with New York, I Love You, what you get is the same experience--only multiplied.
A series of short films interpolated into one "cohesive" story of interweaving plots; shared characters and overlapping time lines is essentially what this film is all about. The gimmick worked for its similarly concocted predecessor, Paris, je t'aime (Paris, I Love You.)
The eclectic cast including Natalie Portman (who doubles as actress in one segment and director of a second splice in which she doesn't act); Mira Nair, Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright (-Penn), and Julie Christie and many many more.
Essentially, at the heart of the film, is a hodge-podge outpouring of sympathy and--yes--love for a city which we've seen represented in film far too many times to count. But, somehow, this disparate collection of shorts seems well-meaning and innocuous despite its inherent art-house pretenses. It really doesn't feel like an art-house snob-fest--although some segments are more dense and inaccessible than others (the Julie Christie segment being the overstated example.) This is counter-balanced by other segments that snappy, quick-witted and a joy to watch (the Ethan Hawke segment being the underrated gem.)
As stories of lovers, fighters, hookers, teenagers, Jews, Indians and other ethnic, relgious and cultural subgenres paint the canvas on film, the film feels more than a little disjointed. It really doesn't blend well enough to be called a one-shot, straight forward piece--but the films aren't suffiently displayed as independent, stand-alone short film to merit being called "short films."
In the end, however, I did find the concept of it all very endearing and, dare I say, rather engaging. Even with its faults (and there were a few), the film felt genuine in its depiction of everyday life in a metropolis so filled with wandering souls in search of connecting. New York, I Love You turns out to be a touching, albeit messy ode to a city that wouldn't have you worship at its feet in any other way.