2 Days In New York

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Julie Delpy
  • Cast:Dylan Baker , Albert Delpy , Daniel Brühl, Julie Delpy, Chris Rock
  • Release Date:November 22, 2012
  • Distributor:Hopscotch
  • Running time:96 minutes
  • Film Worth:$17.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

The comedy plays refreshingly loose and manic, but it’s grounded in Julie Delpy’s trademark wit and poignancy, both as an actress and a director.

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On its surface, Julie Delpy’s 2007 directorial effort, 2 Days In Paris, read like light and forgettable French farce. In reality, however, the feature – which follows a neurotic couple played by Delpy and Adam Goldberg as they ironically navigate their way through the city of love – was an irresistible firecracker of a film that was as bitingly funny as it was deeply bittersweet. It affirmed the French actress – best known to audiences outside her home country for her role in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset – as a genuine directorial talent with a welcomely distinctive point of view. Thus news of a New York-set follow-up came as an unexpected but highly anticipated surprise for fans.

Five years on, we learn that artist, Marion (Delpy), has parted ways with Jack (Goldberg) after having a son together. She’s now settled in a cosy Manhattan apartment with Mingus (Chris Rock), a journalist who hosts a radio show and has a daughter of his own. It’s immediately apparent that Marion’s relationship with Mingus is warmer and considerably less terse than the one that she shared with Jack. That is, at least until her family – who we so memorably met in 2 Days In Paris – comes to stay. Marion’s upcoming art exhibition is the event that prompts their visit to New York (a city which Delpy admirably catches with a fresh and almost tongue-in-cheek touch), and they quickly make their presence felt.

Marion’s father (Delpy’s real life father and veteran actor, Albert Delpy) enters his daughter’s apartment grumbling and reeking of the cheese and sausage that he taped to his body in an attempt to smuggle it into the country. Marion’s oversexed and attention-seeking sister, Rose (Alexia Landeau, who co-wrote with Delpy), has brought along her uninvited boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), who’s every bit the obnoxious tourist. After arranging for a pot dealer to deliver weed to Marion’s apartment, the pair engage in noisy bathroom sex, which may or may not involve Mingus’ electric toothbrush...

Gleefully departing from the usual caricatures of the French as elegant and sophisticated, Delpy mines the culture clash angle for all its worth. She refreshingly lets the absurdity play manic and loose, though there’s no mistaking that she’s in control of the chaos. But Delpy’s not just about comedy for comedy’s sake. She lets the cracks appear, with her family’s visit placing a visible strain on Marion’s relationship with Mingus, which the two actors initially play for well-meaning laughs that turn uneasy. Playing the straight man increasingly bewildered and then frustrated by his Gallic in-laws (who treat his skin colour as a novelty, to add insult to injury), Rock is terrific, layering Mingus with the perfect level of slow-burning outrage. And Delpy is endlessly watchable as a woman torn between the two men in her life – her father and partner – while trying her best to contain the neurotic side that her family exacerbates.

The tension is amped up another notch on the night of Marion’s art show when she fails to impress a pretentious critic, and subsequently regrets her decision to sell her soul as a conceptual art piece. Tracking down the buyer – in a scene that involves a bizarre but brilliant cameo – Marion dissolves into a blubbering mess that signals the storm before the calm, or more appropriately, the madness before the compromise.

But while things reach an emotional breaking point akin to the first film, there’s the sense that Marion is determined to at least try not to repeat the mistakes that she made with Jack. And if it didn’t already before, it’s here that 2 Days In New York draws comparison to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the much admired films in which Delpy and Ethan Hawke play a French-American pair who meet and reunite years later. In some ways, Delpy’s directorial efforts almost resemble prickly and tough-skinned versions of those films, as both revisit characters – in works that are more like snapshots than sequels – over the space of several years. Delpy seems fascinated by the way that time and life experience change people’s perceptions and attitudes, but not their cores. Five years on, Marion’s still a dry-witted and feisty bundle of contradictions and insecurities, but she’s also touchingly softened and less on the defensive.

Proving that she’s lost none of her deft skill at shifting emotional gears, Delpy also weaves in poignant and lyrical moments about Marion’s mother passing away, with the director also losing her real mother (French actress, Marie Pillet, who appeared in 2 Days In Paris) between films. This grief shapes the film; there’s an ache and melancholy that hovers beneath the laughs, and lingers well after the credits roll. But while the world view that she ultimately presents may be a little wearier this time round, there’s no doubting that Julie Delpy is still an absolute joy to spend time with.

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