Thursday, September 06, 2007

2 Days in Paris

Director: Julie Delpy
Writer: Julie Delpy
Producers: Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok
Starring: Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Daniel Brühl, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy, Aleksia Landeau
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 96 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
     If you've seen Before Sunrise or the Linklater/Delpy collaboration and sequel Before Sunset, you'll know what to expect from 2 Days in Paris. A couple walks around a European city and has discussions about their life. 2 Days in Paris is essentially the same thing, but far less intelligent, less insightful, less heartfelt and more muddled. At the same time, this newest film is far more frantic and fun with lots of vibrant characters and witty dialogue. I should be clear though - just because these films are alike, does not mean they have anything to do with one another.

      Marion and Jack (Delpy and Goldberg) are on a two week, European vacation together that we gather has basically been hell from the get go due to Jack suddenly becoming ill (spending most of the trip on the toilet). As he recovers on the last few days of the trip, they've promised to spend a couple of days with Marion's parents in Paris. Once there, besides the language barrier being a problem for Jack, he finds the family bickers constantly about fairly crude topics. He also finds that Marion has quite a number of ex-boyfriends in the area and becomes increasingly paranoid that she's still interested or messing around with some of them. Meanwhile, Marion makes up a few white lies about her past in order to protect Jack's feelings, but only manages to arouse his suspicion even more.

      That plot thread however, seems to really be just an afterthought. For the most part, the film is more about the individual scenes than a complete story arc. We travel from locale to locale within Paris and watch what seem to be little vignettes edited together to make some sort of tangible story line seem more plausible and relatable. From a near fisticuffs encounter with a racist cab driver, to a vegan fairy (yes, a fairy) at McDonald's, each of these scenes work terrifically well by themselves, but end up being a jumbled pile of inconsequentials by film's end. The story itself could actually be told in about 10 minutes.

      To me, the only really interesting character that we get to spend any time with is Jack. He's sarcastic, funny, polite to his elders and has an immediate sense of wit; almost to a fault. Jack seems to have a response to everything that is not only humorous, but also relevant and makes truly understand how he feels. But also, no one talks like this. He sort of reminds me of Randall from the Clerks series. Hilarious, quick-witted and sarcastic, but ultimately an asshole that no one would really want to hang around with (much less be in a relationship with) because he sounds like he's reading everything off a cue card. Still, since we don't have to be friends with him, he'll make you laugh several times; which is good enough for me in this case.

      Marion (played by Delpy) is sort of a bland character without much to say; aside from some anger management issues and random attacks on GW. It could be that she was written this way, or it could be that Delpy was too busy on the other side of the camera to really give it her all. It's not a bad performance by any measure, it's just nothing special. The real gems are Marion's parents played by Delpy's real life mom and dad. An older, cranky and maybe slightly senile couple that love each other very much, but have nothing better to do than fight and bicker about crude subjects. The dinner scene in particular, in which the father spends half of the time messing with Jack's head (to test him) and the other half bitching at his crazy wife, is a real gem.

      This movie is all Delpy. She wrote, directed, scored, edited and starred in it and I have to say, as basically a first timer to do all these things, she put together a mostly enjoyable work. Most of the dialogue, although it feels scripted (again, reminding me of Clerks), is thoroughly enjoyable and very often laugh-out-loud funny. But my main concern is the closing sequence; in which the entire story (what there is of it) is supposed to come to a climax. After a few really tumultuous hours, our two main characters come face to face for a "climactic duel" that was sure to be fantastic. But it felt like Delpy was under some sort of time constraint and had to hand in her homework before it was really complete. As it was the dialogue that was the best part of the film (especially the stuff written for Goldberg), why on earth was the final scene dubbed over with Delpy's lame narration? This could have been and was supposed to be the big "unveiling", so to speak, in which the two main characters really let loose; but instead, Delpy takes the easy way out, adds a few lame lines of supposedly poignant narration and ruins what could've been the best exchange in the film.

      Despite all its many flaws, like the fact that it doesn't really have much to say and the story line is almost nonexistent and muddled, each scene works well in its own right and every bit of banter and bicker within each scene is cringingly fun; especially whenever Goldberg is in frame. Overlooking the problems in the theater is easy to do and overall it's an enjoyable time and money well enough spent. Though it will likely work just as well on DVD, coming up very soon, on a cold winter evening.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

IMDb profile - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE for 2 Days in Paris

Posted by Andrew James in

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