Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a New York singer grateful to have made her living with music. She’s got a new album coming out and is embarking on a new tour, even if tickets aren’t selling as briskly as they used to. But a grim diagnosis from her doctor has her wandering around the city, lost in thought.
The whole movie takes place on this one bleak day. She’s introspective, pinballing between gratitude for the life she’s lived and regret for all the sacrifices she’s made in order to live it. A teenager daughter who’s been left in the care of her father (Simon Baker) is first among them. A visit from her critical, overbearing mother (Jacqueline Bisset) is ill-timed. Updates from her manager and her only real friend (Common) keep things in perspective.
I actually kind of love movies like this, where we get to know a person very intimately on such a significant day. And New York City is such a great place for wandering souls, a beautiful backdrop for anguish and analysis. The pace is deliberately slow as Vivienne meanders around, mentally struggling to balance the demands in her life now that she’s staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
The film works best when its female characters are interacting, and evaluating the bonds between them. Other stuff works less well, which makes for a frustrating experience, since the movie is just too slow to allow for scenes that don’ work. But Parker is committed, and Renee Zellwegger makes a surprising and crucial appearance, so it’s not all bad. It’s just terribly uneven, which, in fairness, is probably true to any day on which you’ve just been told you’re facing an untimely death. But since you and I are going to go on living, we deserve to do it with better stories better told.