September 20, 2007

REVIEW: 2 Days in Paris (B+)

Background: Julie Delpy is well known for her roles in Richard Linklater's excellent Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, romantic intellectual films set in a dreamy European city (Vienna; Paris) where a neurotic guy (Ethan Hawke) spends a day trying to figure out a French girl (played by Delpy) and prove that he is worth her commitment. In 2 Days in Paris, Delpy tries something new - a romantic intellectual film set in a dreamy European city (Paris) where a neurotic guy (Adam Goldberg) spends two days trying to figure out a French girl (played by Delpy) and prove that he is worth her commitment. Aside from an extra day, the important difference is that Delpy wrote, produced and directed this film. She also composed the score, cast her real-life parents as her on-screen parents, and even used their apartment as the filming location. Adam Goldberg ("that guy" from Saving Private Ryan, A Beautiful Mind, and recently, Deja Vu and Zodiac) plays Delpy's boyfriend, for which he also had real-life experience. Why didn't Julie Delpy just make a reality show about herself?

Synopsis: On their way back to New York from a romantic vacation in Venice, Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Goldberg) spend some quality time visiting Marion's family and old friends in Paris. The two quirky lovers joke and argue through language barriers (Jack doesn't speak French), awkward moments with family, and most importantly, Jack's hilarious paranoia about all of Marion's ex-boyfriends. Extremely strange people float in and out of their interactions, from cab drivers to cemetary dancers to artists to "fairies." As their time in Paris comes to an end, Marion and Jack face the disturbing realization that they know very little about each other after two years together, and they may not be able to continue their relationship without making some major sacrifices. Will "love" prevail?

I Loved:
+ The scene on the subway - I haven't laughed in a theater like that for a while.
+ The last line of dialogue.
+ Adam Goldberg's facial expressions and muttered quips throughout the movie.

I Liked:
+ Her cat - was that thing real?
+ The narrated photo montages and final scene.
+ The fairy.

I Disliked:
- How different Julie Delpy looked in every scene - calm down with the costume design and make-up!
- How nicely everything came together in the end - something still just didn't feel right between the two of them.

I Hated:
- How "artistic" all the Parisians were, as usual.
- How exaggerated some of the scenes with the parents felt, like Meet the Parents in French.
- Julie Delpy's unpredictable emotional explosions.

Writing - 8
Acting - 9
Production - 10
Emotional Impact - 10
Music - 3
Significance - 4

Total: 44/50 = 88% = B+

Last Word: While it tries to be an emotional drama at times, 2 Days in Paris can't hide the fact that it's really a dark romantic comedy. The vulgar language and the disappointing reliance on all things sexual is what separates this from Before Sunrise/Sunset. Apparently Julie Delpy just wanted to let her nasty side show in this, and it's not flattering. In any case, 2 Days in Paris is not a date movie. It's a movie for people who have struggled through long-term relationships, and can find the humor in the most difficult moments of fear, love, and angst. Julie Delpy has found some creative ways - especially with narration - to reframe your typical relationship movie, and while the real power of the film comes from the raw, honest dialogue, it's the humor (provided in abundance by Adam Goldberg) found within the conflicts that makes 2 Days in Paris a somewhat more mature romantic comedy than the likes of The Sweetest Thing.

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