Saturday, 20 June 2009

2 Days in Paris

Lowdown: The relationship of a New York couple is stressed when visiting the woman's home in Paris.
Julie Delpy is a name I remember from my teenage years, the name of the occasional star of a minor teenage flick. Later on in life I stumbled on her while watching some French films, which made me wonder what Delpy's story is: what is she doing in French films on one hand and in cheap American stuff on the other? Well, the mystery may be answered by 2 Days in Paris. If ever there was a film that's owned by one person then 2 Days in Paris is it: Judging by the closing credits, Delpy did everything from writing the script to directing the film and in the middle of it sweeping the set's floors and doing the catering. Judging by the film, which feels more than a bit autobiographical, the answer Delpy is a French that moved to the USA; cest tout.
Delpy's film tells the story of a couple of lovers from New York who have been together for a couple of years: He, Adam Goldberg (aka The Hebrew Hammer), an authentic New Yorker with some Jewish background and tons of tattoos; and she, Delpi, a Parisian girl that moved to New York later in life. The two arrive in Paris for two days only, offering Goldberg the first proper opportunity to meet with Delpy's family. And what a shocking encounter it is! Delpy's family seems as dysfunctional as mine. Then Goldberg goes to meet some of Delpy's friends, in the process learning that she had more than casual relationships with several of them. The entire encounter shocks Goldberg as he learns things he never knew about Delpy, yet on the other hand he realizes he mustn't expect Delpy to be a virgin. And should Delpy have told him more about the life she used to have before they got together? Paris, the city of lovers, never seemed so relationship threatening.
Overall, 2 Days in Paris is a romantic comedy the way a romantic comedy should be. For a start, it is a proper comedy in the sense that it made us laugh very loudly on numerous occasions. That said, it is important to stress 2 Days in Paris is a drama before it is a comedy, and the romance bit of it is at the core of the drama: it is a tale of a relationship in stress, and as tales of relationships go it is a very authentic tale. The reason for the tale's authenticity and relevance is quite clear: All couples need to navigate the minefield of past relationships and family history, and in all cases there is some stress involved. And yes, the more exotic the place you visit is, the more chance you have of the visit being stressful; it's the normal story of the higher the expectations, the higher the potential fall.
Best scene: Goldberg takes a walk down narrow Parisian streets with Delpy and her French speaking only father. While walking, the father makes sure he keys every car that slightly blocks the sidewalk. Goldberg, the enlightened politically correct oriented New Yorker, is terrified; Delpy is so used to it she completely ignores it. Me? I wouldn't mind doing similar things from time to time and take upon me the task of being the judge and the executioner; it's tempting even if it's clearly wrong. I just don't have the balls.
Technical assessment: Production values make it clear that 2 Days in Paris was made to a very tight budget. It's hard to tell whether the fault is in the original or in the DVD, but it seems a fair assessment to say much of the film was shot with consumer video cameras under available light.
Overall: Watching 2 Days in Paris made me want to thank Delpy for producing a film that is so relevant and also so entertaining at the same time. Compare it to the regular trash that passes for romantic comedies nowadays (e.g., Made of Honor) and you will agree, too, that Delpy's effort fully deserves 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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