Perhaps the least romantic movie ever made about the City of Love, 2 Days in Paris charts the disintegrating relationship curve between Marion (Julie Delpy), a testy photographer, and Jack (Adam Goldberg), her neurotic foil. Returning from a not-so-blissful idyll in Venice, the couple stops over in Paris, where Jack is reluctantly immersed in Marion’s monumentally kvetchy family. Her father is a randy old goat who manages a gallery of erotic art, and her mother … well, just don’t mention Jim Morrison. Everywhere Jack and Marion go, they encounter her old lovers, fueling Jack’s innate paranoia.
2 Days in Paris is produced, written and directed by Delpy, who also stars (her parents play her on-screen parents). Delpy also edited the film, chose the music, took some of Marion’s still photos and performs the theme song over the end titles with the band Nouvelle Vague. Her two years at NYU’s film school have given her a keen eye for American insecurities and the garrulous wisecracking that disguises a fundamental national Puritanism. Meanwhile, she trains her camera on subjects distinctly French, reveling in the eviscerated lamb corpses, stewed rabbit heads and public sexual discussions that can shock the so-sophisticated New Yorkers. The scenes where the French-deficient Jack scowls ferociously as people chatter around him evokes every trip back to a new love’s home, where everyone converses in a family-speak the interloper can’t understand.
Delpy was nominated for an Oscar for her collaboration on the script of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset and has worked as an actress with amazing directors, including Jean-Luc Godard, Bertrand Tavernier, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jim Jarmusch. Goldberg (star of the guilty-pleasure favorite The Hebrew Hammer) is pitch perfect as a cranky fussbudget who may or may not be loveable.
Although insightful, 2 Days in Paris devolves into a little too much arguing toward the end and will not have you rushing to book that long-delayed flight to Paris. But, the sharp characterizations make it a cinematic trip worth taking.