Review by Victoria Large
Posted on 31 August 2012
Source 35mm print
In writer-director Julie Delpy’s 2007 film 2 Days in Paris, Adam Goldberg plays Jack, an American who grows increasingly miserable while visiting the overbearing family of his French girlfriend, Marion (played by Delpy). At a Q&A following the IFFB screening of Paris’ sequel, 2 Days in New York, Delpy suggested that the obvious course for the sequel to take would be a simple reversal: a film in which Marion’s French family found themselves daunted and discouraged when faced with a sprawling and hard-edged American city. But Delpy took a more unexpected route, once again depicting her French characters as an outgoing and often unpleasantly loopy bunch. The question is not so much whether the family will survive in the title city, but rather whether they will do excessive damage while they are there.
Yet something important has changed. In the first film, Goldberg’s Jack is as over-the-top in his fish-out-of-water discomfort as Marion and her family are in their Gallic goofiness. But the sequel finds Marion with a new suitor named Mingus, who turns out to be a calm straight man played by an immensely likable Chris Rock. This change – which is deftly handled in a sweet prologue wherein Marion tells Lulu, her son with Jack, that Mommy and Daddy have chosen to be happy separately – brings 2 Days in New York a greater sense of reality and equilibrium than its predecessor. It’s true that the hijinx of Marion’s family are still cranked to 11 much of the time, with Marion’s sister, Rose, unsubtly hitting on Mingus and her father making questionable choices regarding food and hygiene. But Mingus’ commonsensical cool helps to hold things together. And what’s more, Rock and Delpy share lovely chemistry—and adorably matching glasses.
Rather than the broadest comedy bits, the film’s oddest little frills are the elements that linger with me most. I’m thinking of the scenes with Mingus’ memorably morbid daughter Willow, who wants to be a dead princess for Halloween, and of course the blessedly weird subplot that finds Marion selling her soul to Vincent Gallo. The distinctly personal touches also carry special resonance: Delpy’s real-life parents Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy appear as Marion’s mother and father in 2 Days in Paris, and Pillet’s passing in 2009 is acknowledged here with heartbreaking restraint: Marion tells Lulu that “Granny flew away to the sky.”
Overall, fans of Delpy’s first film will likely enjoy this new outing, and it may earn her a few converts as well. If the film is unfocused at times, it is nevertheless endearing, and it signals encouraging growth in Delpy’s still-blossoming career behind the camera.