Tama Janowitz' collection of stories - some of which she adapted for this film - focuses on the middlebrow, middle class thirty-somethings who colonised Manhattan's East Village. Dizzy hat-designer Eleanor (perfectly played by Peters) lives with a shit called Stash (Howard) who paints cans of spinach. The decline of their doomed relationship is the pretext for a saunter through an airless world of galleries, parties and clubs, where everyone is on the make and no one except Eleanor has redeeming features. This doesn't matter so much, given that New York itself is the leading character; it's in the short scenes capturing the atmosphere of the city - skyscrapers at sunrise, sidewalks at sunset, rain reflected neon, a raccoon truffling through trash, gleaming limos parked beside burnt-out wrecks - that Ivory is at his best. He works hard to find a visual equivalent of Janowitz's jaunty prose, but the result, despite an eclectic rock score, bold colours, and nifty optical tricks, is more cooked-up than kooky. Relentlessly good-looking, the movie is all surface; the few moments of wit and comic tenderness hint at what might have been.