By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
If you are a non-Francophone film fan and you know Julie Delpy’s name, its almost certainly from her (and Ethan Hawke’s and Richard Linklater’s) sublime Before trilogy- Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. What you may not know is that Delpy has also written, and this time directed, another series about the fortunes, foibles, and failings of intercultural relationships- the 2 Days series.
Her sequel experience weren’t always so fortunate
2 Days in Paris follows Delpy and her New Yorker boyfriend (Adam Goldberg) as they pass through Paris to meet Delpy’s eccentric family for a couple of days after a Venice vacation. Can their relationship survive meeting the parents, the old boyfriends, and the culture clash that is bound to follow?
After watching this film, it becomes very obvious what Delpy’s contributions to the Before series were, and how integral she was to striking the balance that made each of those films all-time classics. This move is very much their spiritual sibling, from its mix of relationship drama and philosophizing to its decidedly romantic viewpoint of two people in a modern, realistic, “unromantic” relationship.
She also introduces an element of comedy that the Before films largely lacked. 2 Days in Paris is often hilarious, with Delpy showing fine comic ability, Goldberg playing the neurotic New Yorker to a T, Daniel Bruhl getting a great random cameo, and the rest of the family getting to play the comic foils. Albert Delpy (the Dad)’s the MVP, though, and incredibly is her real-life father.
Don’t you just want to give him a huge hug?
The flick makes you think, too, not only about modern love and culture shock, but about ideas as random as vegetarianism and how snapshot culture ruins a traveling experience. Delpy also shows good skills as a filmmaker, liberally applying montages and comic flashbacks to liven up the proceedings and artistic, lyrical sequences to add poignancy and wonder. The pace is also perfect, and you’ll barely notice the time fly by as you watch.
Nobody in this film is really all that sympathetic, which in a way is a brave choice. However, I’m not sure Delpy knows that fact, at least not entirely, and that can make the film come off as annoyingly smug at times (much like the Before series).
Like a goofier, exceedingly French cousin of the Before trilogy, with a few Meet the Parents genes somewhere down the family line.
Take a Drink: whenever photography or vision is mentioned or shown
Take a Drink: whenever Goldberg is either neurotic or a dick
Take a Drink: for every cultural misunderstanding
Take a Drink: whenever the parents way cross the privacy line
Take a Drink: every time Goldberg thinks he sees evidence of cheating
Do a Shot: for every horrible taxi driver