22 May 2010

Review: "2 Days in Paris"

After watching Before Sunrise and Before Sunset I felt compelled to re-watch 2 Days in Paris because I had rediscovered my love of Julie Delpy. She is completely responsible for this film: writing, directing, producing and starring in it. While at first it may appear similar to her pair of films with Ethan Hawke, it is not. Once again she is a sophisticated French woman paired against a American man, but this time they are a couple staying in Paris for two days after a vacation in Venice. Adam Goldberg is much crasser than Ethan Hawke, and unfortunately my only previous experiences with his acting come from guest-starring roles on Friends and Will & Grace. While Paris was the third character in Before Sunset, it remains in the background for 2 Days in Paris, only there to remind us that Jack (Adam Goldberg) is a foreigner in Marion's (Julie Delpy) world. I am not sure if the film was originally released with English subtitles because there are quite a few scenes with extensive French dialogue. Luckily, I am able to understand, but I feel that the lack of subtitles force the viewer to feel as uncomfortable as Jack in these situations. 2 Days in Paris has a wonderful sense of humour and features a great screenplay and performance by Julie Delpy that should make all of us hope that she continues to bring her unique style to our screens.

Marion and Jack have been dating for 2 years. Their personalities are as different as can be. We first meet them in the taxi line outside the train station in Paris. They have just returned from a trip to Venice and are going to pick up her cat from her parents' apartment. Relationships often become much more tense while traveling together and we can believe that their relationship was different before this trip to Italy. Marion is a photographer and Jack in an interior designer, though it was Jack who took every single photograph during their vacation. He is surprised that her apartment is above her parents' and he feels very out of place during a meal with her parents, who speak limited English. Jack, becoming increasingly neurotic, has trouble with the language barrier and finds it hard to believe that Marion is still in touch with numerous ex-boyfriends. They attend a party and he has very few people to talk to while she floats around the room talking to everyone. He is very uncomfortable when her exes flirt with her and we begin to wonder if their relationship is doomed. Their relationship, if it was ever meant to last, seems irreparably damaged and the question becomes whether or not Jack and Marion want to salvage it.

The dialogue in Before Sunrise was very clunky at times, and while Before Sunset was much better written (Julie Delpy had a screenwriting credit), 2 Days in Paris seems much more natural, and this may be due to the fact that it is not as dependent on dialogue. It is an enjoyable and unique film. It is not uncommon for a language barrier to affect a couple, but 2 Days in Paris makes this situation feel brand new with two wonderfully quirky characters. Roger Ebert, in his review, wondered how Jack and Marion ever went out on a second date, and I would have to agree! He also briefly mentions a comparison of Julie Delpy to Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Maybe Julie Delpy, in her quirky and sophisticated manner, is a French Diane Keaton. If so, more reason to love her. I wonder how I would have reacted to the film had I not understood the French dialogue. Would a similar language barrier have made me more sympathetic to Jack? 2 Days in Paris is a great first film for Julie Delpy that was well paced and terrifically acted.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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