Reviews by Jason Pirodsky
A lightweight, amusing romantic comedy, writer-director-star Julie Delpy´s 2 Days in Paris (not to be confused in any way with 1 Night in Paris) is a thoroughly enjoyable Paris excursion. Delpy co-starred alongside Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater’s popular romances Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Here, she stars with Adam Goldberg in a spiritual descendant of the Linklater films, which follows a young New York couple touring Paris throughout the titular 2 Days. The film never reaches the dramatic/romantic heights of Linklater´s movies, but then again, few films can; though never reaching the intended emotional resonance (some occasionally overbearing narration doesn´t help), 2 Days in Paris remains breezy, thoughtful fun.
Delpy plays photographer Marion, touring Europe with boyfriend Jack (Goldberg) and winding up in Paris, Marion´s hometown, after a particularly unpleasant stay in Venice. They stay with Marion´s parents, played in the film by Delpy´s real-life parents, wander around Paris doing tourist things, and talk, and argue. Like most couples that have been together for a significant amount of time, they begin to get on each other´s nerves. It doesn´t help that Jack is playing the typical tourist, taking pictures of everything he can and complaining about everything else. And it doesn´t help that about 20% of Paris seems to be comprised of Marion´s ex-boyfriends, most of whom are still flirtatious, some of whom she may still harbor feelings for. Eventually, Jack begins to suspect Marion of potential infidelities. Along the way, there are an array of witty observations and culture clashes, obscure references and bizarre non-sequiturs, including my favorite, which involves a fast food terrorist played by Daniel Brühl.
While Delpy and Goldberg can banter plenty well, there isn´t much sexual chemistry between them. But maybe that´s the point: watching them seems to be a pretty accurate portrayal of most shaky long-term relationships. Still, this may not be everyone´s cup of tea. I´ll tell you right now that the film fails on all romantic fronts.
It works best as a showcase for Goldberg, an instantly recognizable character actor typically typecast as the annoying, nasal-voiced sidekick whether it be in Saving Private Ryan or The Salton Sea or Friends. He´s terrific here, sarcastic and annoying but also strangely endearing in that Woody Allen kind of way. Delpy is good as well, though not nearly as enchanting as she was in the Linklater films; nor was she intended to be – the character she plays lacks the empathy I felt for Goldberg´s. I´ve noticed that stars-turned-directors sometimes tend to paint the characters they play in harsher tones than one might normally expect (also see: Ben Stiller, Steve Buscemi); it feels obvious that they´re consciously avoiding making their characters too sympathetic, avoiding the criticism that might befall a Sylvester Stallone or Mel Gibson. But rarely do we get the kind of endearing warts-and-all performance from an Allen or a Chaplin; one is good enough for this film.
2 Days in Paris is an amusing, intelligent, thoughtful romantic comedy, a breath of fresh in an age where mention of the genre´s name strikes fear in the hearts of men. It´s unfortunate that director Delpy has fashioned her film so closely to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, which are, perhaps, the two best English-language romances of the last twenty or so years. It doesn´t stand up to those films. But it still has plenty of charm.
Note: though mostly in English there´s quite a bit of French spoken in the film, which won´t be subtitled in English in Prague cinemas.
Also opening: Michaela Pavlátová’s Děti noci (titled Night Owls in English), which screened in competition at this year’s Karlovy Vary Film Fest. Catch it with English subtitles at Kino Světozor.
And: Catch the Manhattan Short Film Festival at Kino Světozor on Saturday and Sunday. As part of the festival, 12 short film finalists are screening across the globe between September 21st and 28th, with audience members voting for the winner. Catch the 12 finalists at Světozor and pick the winner yourself. All films are in English or contain English subtitles.