2 Days in Paris

Threading on familiar ground with her second writer/director credit, Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in Paris” is just reminiscent enough of the Richard Linklater “Sunrise/Sunset” series whilst avoiding the pitfalls of rehashed material.

35 year old eccentric couple Marion (Deply) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) pass through Paris after a decidedly unromantic trip to Venice. Marion must pick up her cat from her mother yet feels compelled to stay, if only for 48 hours, to show her paramour just what it is he missed on her last trip here. Unfortunately introducing him to her ex-lovers turned friends forces them both to re-examine how well they know each other and also how comfortable they are with themselves.

Inevitably the comparisons are easily raised to Deply’s previous cinematography however for one to spend any real length of time actually examining the piece, it becomes an entirely different creature to what went before. Yes we still see a young couple in a foreign destination but gone is the verbose metaphysical ramblings of Céline, replaced by the direct and plainly written dialogue of the script. Neither is this merely a relationship based on intellectual attraction and longing, instead one real in its observations and witty sparring. A gross overstatement to say that the optimism of Linklater’s films are gone here, merely tempered by reality.

Such a plainness to the writing can often be a mixed blessing, lending it a vitality and vigour yet also rendering some of their more political and sociological conversations crass in how they would appease an audience of a liberal mindset. As I decided to watch the film without subtitles (to better relate to Jack’s cultural and linguistic isolation), the simplicity of both languages enables most to grasp some degree of understanding, just enough to understand what’s going on but still short of being fully included. More so, it is also what is not said, what is left to either a mute scene with attached voiceover that this simplicity comes across best. For instance the concluding scenes are told only by Marion, explaining not only what happened but also how she is the way she is.
Many will also argue that the story can often be poorly paced in terms of the consistency of story but Deply is merely allowing a deeper observation of the characters through each specific instance, even if we do not automatically know it.

That very idea could not have worked if not for Deply and Goldberg’s talent in portraying the characters. Marion, the lackadaisical yet impulsive photographer and Jack the hypochondriacal, hipster-tattooed interior decorator could otherwise be grating in the constantly neurotic states, especially with other actors in the role. Thankfully both slip rather seamlessly into character, adding a vulnerability that’s becoming of two otherwise wannabes. Juggling humour and the idea of changing due to circumstances and even how in some ways we never change at all, is not an easy task but one they handle admirably. It almost seems spontaneous; lived, rather than acted.

Deeply funny and inevitably scary in how it forces us to view the distance between us and our partners, “2 Days in Paris” is far smarter than it ever lets on.

    • Darren
    • February 28th, 2011

    I have to admit, I’m not sure I’m ready for Goldberg in a dramatic role after The Hewbrew Hammer.

      • thejackanory
      • March 13th, 2011

      It’s not really a very dramatic role, largely he just has to be funny and odd. Voiceover at the end carries a lot of the poignance but he manages to convey a surprising amount through facial expressions which is often harder to do.

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