Two Days in Paris
by Julie Delpy (2007)
Reviewed by Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Another “An American in Paris” movie, albeit an unconventional one. Instead of telling a love story before the backdrop of the great city of Paris, Julie Delpy’s first feature film as a director takes on the complex issue of an intercultural relationship in the throes of culture shock. After spending two weeks in Italy, photographer Marion (Julie Delpy) and her boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg), an interior designer, decide to stay with Marion’s French parents in Paris for two days before returning to the U.S. What enfolds is a witty and funny depiction of cultural differences and relationship issues that arise on every imaginable occasion during the couple’s brief visit to Paris.
Instead of finding romance and bliss, Jack and Marion have to come to terms with their different personalities, expectations, neuroses, and fears as they spend the last two days of their Europe vacation in Paris. Although Marion lives in New York, where Jack is from, she feels quite at home in Paris, where she grew up. Meanwhile, in Paris, Jack has to battle the language barrier and cultural differences at every step of the way. Jack is led into the abyss of Parisian Bohemian life, filled with eccentric and sex-obsessed artists, French cuisine, gallery openings, and parties all seem to bring out the worst in the couple and make them realize just how fundamentally different they really are.
Julie Delpy reveals herself as a Renaissance woman in this movie, which she wrote, directed, edited, starred in--she even wrote the soundtrack. But despite Delpy’s accomplishments, the script is somewhat 1-dimensional. It is based on a few really funny ideas and anecdotes, but due to the lack of a real plot and the slow pace of the film, the script runs out of steam and ideas about halfway through the movie. The themes of the ugly American in Pairs, the sexist, racist cab driver, culture shock in Paris, and numerous relationship issues, although funny and witty at first, are repeated over and over again, until the movie finally reaches its end. Jack’s neurotic behavior as the whiny and hypochondriac “ugly American” boyfriend quickly becomes annoying. He nags, bickers, and complains so much and behaves in such an obnoxious manner that it becomes difficult to follow him through the movie and feel any empathy. And when Marion continues to run into former lovers and boyfriends who still have an interest in her, one wonders why she does not just get rid of Jack and get together with one of her old flames.
Despite these drawbacks, there are many funny and witty scenes to be savored throughout the movie. All the scenes with Marion’s parents (played by Julie Delpy’s parents: Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet) are hilarious. Their fresh performances bring relief and humor to a movie often mired in excessive dialogue between Jack and Marion. Deply’s parents bring a real sense of French life and culture to the movie; they do a great job playing the quintessential French parents who seek to embarrass the American boyfriend at every possible occasion.
Although perhaps less appealing to a mainstream audience, “Two Days in Paris” is popular among “Indie” film fans who appreciate the movie’s unconventional theme, witty humor, and independent spirit. "Two Days in Paris" was a popular hit at international film festivals and received several award nominations.
To find out more and watch the trailer, go to www.2daysinparisthefilm.com.