2 DAYS IN NEW YORK. Starring: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexandre Nahon, and Alexia Landeau. Directed by Julie Delpy. Rated MA15+. Restricted. (Strong coarse language and sexual references). 92 min.
This is an American romantic comedy, co-written, directed and starring the same person (Julie Delpy), who gave us the 2007 film, “2 Days in Paris”. New York is one of the most fêted cities in the world outside Paris, and both Julie Delpy and Woody Allen have directed movies about the two cities. Again, like some of Woody Allen’s movies, this film is a family concern. The director’s real-life father (Albert Delpy) appears in the movie, playing her father.
French photographer, Marion (Julie Delpy) lives in Manhattan, and is preparing for an exhibition of her work. A new boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock), who is a Village Voice journalist and radio host, shares her apartment in New York. He partners Marion, and both Marion and Mingus have children from previous relationships. The father of Marion’s son, who visited Paris with Marion in the previous movie, has moved away.
People Marion knows descend on her from France for a brief visit. They include her over-sexed sister (Alexia Landeau), who arrives with her outgoing boyfriend, Manu (Alexandre Nahon) - who also happens to be Marion’s ex-boyfriend - and Marion’s recently widowed father, Jeannot (Albert Delpy). The visit creates chaos, and it changes the relationships that existed previously among all of them.
The film is an eccentric comedy along the style of Woody Allen’s movies. It exaggerates its fun moments for comic effect, aims to be emotionally truthful, and is full of one-liners in the way Allen’s movies often are. At its core, the film is an intermittently successful reflection on Franco-American relationships, and it doesn’t hesitate to use broad stereotypes to push its humour home. Its satirical thrust tackles such issues as French fascination with good eating, and cultural variations on the theme of promiscuity.
This is a film full of sexual banter, cross-talk, and lots of swearing. Family issues surface, language barriers cause significant problems, and there is copious evidence of interpersonal and cultural conflicts. Most of the action occurs in a small New York apartment. Like Woody Allen’s movies, the film aims for sharp observations about its characters and many of the situations that arise, border on farce. Larger life issues, like grief over death and personal loss, come up, but they aren’t integrated coherently into the emotional fabric of the movie.
The plot of this film, and that of “2 Days in Paris”, is much the same. Both films are about a couple, living together, who assess their relationship under pressure, and, in the ensuing dialogue, things are said which the characters really didn’t mean. However, in the to-and-fro, learning about Marion and Jack (Adam Goldberg) in the previous movie was much more interesting than exploring the relationship in this movie between Marion and Mingus. Marion is an assertive, highly verbal, and challenging person, who dominates the movie. Mingus is more of an introspective person, lost and outraged for the most part by a visit from strangers he doesn’t really understand.
Overall, the film is about a motley assortment of people trying to get on with each other, and it is an essentially talkie-comedy about cultural tensions. It has some good comic moments, and some smart one-liners, but it doesn’t have the spontaneity of the film before it, and it drifts too many times into self-obsession. Things get interesting when Marion “sells her soul” to the highest bidder at the opening of her exhibition, but the philosophical fascination of her action comes too late.
New York attempts to stand vibrantly in the background. In all of the verbal exchanges, however, it doesn’t get too much of a listen-in.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Out 22nd. November 2012.