Julie Delpy is a rare triple threat, equally talented as a writer, director, and actor. And she’s bilingual, too. Such an overachiever! Her romantic comedy 2 Days in Paris is an engaging and witty escape to the City of Lights. Though it’s slightly tarnished by an overreliance on Woody Allen tropes, it’s still a lot of fun. And Paris always looks so good on film.
At 35 years old, Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) are at that stage of their two-year relationship when they’re wondering what’s next. A two-week vacation in Venice has not turned out well, and before they return to New York, they stop off in Paris, Marion’s hometown, so Jack can meet the parents and Marion can reconnect with her Parisian friends.
Like Woody Allen, Jack is a migraine-prone, neurotic, motor-mouthed xenophobe and germophobe who gets upset by strange sights and smells and can riff on the dangers of bathroom mold for hours. (Marion, in true French style, says the mold is like blue cheese.) Afraid to take the subway because of his fears of terrorism, and unable to speak French, Jack finds himself dependent on Marion.
Her delightful ex-hippie parents (Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy, Julie Delpy’s real-life folks) intimidate him. Lively and friendly and full of stories (Mom remembers doing it with Jim Morrison in 1969), they terrify Jack with a lunch of braised rabbit and overwhelm him with rapid-fire French.
But the trouble really begins when Jack accompanies Marion to various parties where she seems to run into ex-boyfriends constantly. The fact that they are all taller, cooler and better-looking than Jack only makes things worse. After a few text message mix-ups rattle him further, he has no choice but to call Marion a slut, as if he had expected her to wait 33 years in a convent for him to show up on a white horse. Marion, an unpredictably volatile sort, explodes, and the two separate.
Alone in the scary foreign city, Jack immediately starts having quirky adventures, running into a would-be vegan terrorist targeting fast-food restaurants and being accused of mugging a woman. Meanwhile, Marion tries to come to terms with her non-committal past and wonders if Jack is really the kind of guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
Delpy’s banter is quick and funny, and the whole film feels wonderfully improvised. The couple’s bickering is precisely the kind of stuff you hear when you pass by arguing couples on any city street. The only thing keeping this good film from being great is Delpy’s tendency to play Jack’s many neuroses for easy laughs. If she had toned down the Woody Allenisms by about 20 percent, 2 Days in Paris would have felt really really real. As it is, it’s still a lark, yet another good cinematic opportunity to spend a few days wandering around a beautiful city.
The DVD includes an interview with Delpy and some extended scenes.
Aka Two Days in Paris.
I think I saw a McDonald’s.