Thursday, March 6, 2008
MINI REVIEW: 2 DAYS IN PARIS (***1/2)
The excellent romantic comedy 2 DAYS IN PARIS has much to recommend. A poignant and honest examination of sex and relationships while also taking time to examine the many cultural differences between the US and France, the film marks the writing/directing debut of its co-star Julie Delpy, who is probably best known for her tremendously appealing performances in Richard Linklater's BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET. Shot in the same hand-held, "walking and talking" style of those two films mentioned above, I was surprised to see that Linklater was not among the credited producers. Delpy has clearly picked up her early filmmaking techniques from Linklater's improvisational style and as a result, the film has a breezy, easy-going charm. Delpy's semi-autobiographical script revolves around Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg, never better), a happy couple who have taken a fairly unromantic vacation to Italy. Marion, a Paris native, decides to take Jack to her town for a weekend so she can introduce him to her parents before the two of them head back to New York City. To make the film even more personal, the actors portraying Marion's parents are in real life Delpy's actual parents. While there, Marion and Jack keep bumping into Marion's ex-lovers, much to Jack's chagrin. He slowly begins to realize that he doesn't know enough about the woman he's been dating for the last two years, and the film revels in the sharply written banter between the two lead characters. Delpy and Goldberg play wonderfully off one another, creating rich, believable characters that no matter how flawed, the audience still loves. As written, Marion is a bit of a head-case, the product of promiscuous parents and a promiscuous lifestyle. She's screwed over her fair share of boyfriends, and in turn, has had her share of broken hearts. She's the sort of good looking, tall, thin blond that has been around the block and considers all of her relationships to be important in the forming of her current situation. Never worrying that Marion might come off as a tad unlikable (she does in a few instances), I applaud Delpy for creating a layered character that never resorts to the easy or simple. Goldberg, a journeyman supporting actor who always brings humor and class to whatever he's in, really gets a chance to shine in a rare lead performance. He's sensational, probably the best he's ever been, and the dialogue that Delpy has written for him zings and zangs; he has impeccable comedic timing. 2 DAYS IN PARIS, which was released theatrically last May and has just been released on DVD, is extremely funny, sometimes a little erratic (a few scenes are a bit odd in tone), and constantly charming in a sexy, European way. Delpy, clearly a Bush hater, doesn't side step her own personal politics in this film; she makes it very clear that America has some serious problems that need to be fixed. But she's just as harsh on her native country, often showing the audience how dark and mean a country like France can be. The culture clash that Jack faces (he's the prototypical neurotic New York Jew) in France yields some priceless moments but never feels cliche or forced. Delpy has made a very solid debut with 2 DAYS IN PARIS and I look forward to seeing what she does next.