Friday, 26 April 2013

Two Days in Paris

Early this year I saw a great little Franco-American comedy called Two Days in New York. That film, a sequel to this, worked well as a stand alone film but we enjoyed it so much that my girlfriend sought out the first movie as well. Julie Delpy writes, directs, edits, composes and stars in what is essentially a study of love. French born but New York residing photographer Marion (Delpy) is on her way back to the States following an unromantic trip to Venice with her neurotic, Woody Allen with tattoos and a beard-esque boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) when they stop off in Paris for a couple of days to pick up a cat and drop in on Marion’s parents. The previously disaster filled Venice trip fades into obscurity when put up against the events of the two days as former lover after former lover reappears in Marion’s home city and Jack becomes ever more jealous and agitated.

I’m a big fan of talkie comedy-dramas featuring socially liberal, middle class people. I love Woody Allen, Wes Anderson and Guillaume Canet, all three, directors who can create snappy, funny, insightful films about relationships in often claustrophobic settings. Delpy has the same talent and despite the spacious city streets of the French capital, the film feels hemmed in and claustrophobic which adds to the sense of sweaty tension. The dialogue is politically smart and socially astute and is snappy in both English and French. It’s incredibly droll and witty and manages to play on stereotypes without succumbing to them. There is also a great understanding of the ebb and flow of a relationship and the hang ups which both sides naturally have.

I enjoyed the plot of Two Days in Paris. It straddles the line between farce and realism, dipping into both from time to time. It also manages to be at once both serious and irreverent about a topic we can all relate to. A small problem with the story is that because the couple keep meeting Marion’s former lovers over and over again, it paints Paris as a very small, interconnected city which it isn’t. There are other examples of unlikely coincidental meetings but they are all played for laughs and the story wouldn’t work without them. I can accept the idea of bumping into people at a party with mutual friends but it happened far too often in the outside world despite the script trying to rationalise it by discussing theories of interconnectivity. Otherwise the script is very strong in both its themes and especially its dialogue. I laughed numerous times at witty one-liners and comments as well as longer, more philosophical speeches.

The acting is mostly excellent. I’ve long been a fan of Adam Goldberg but have rarely seen him in such a central role. In Hollywood he is generally pigeon-holed in any intense, edgy roles which Michael Shannon is unavailable for. Goldberg displays stereotypical Jewish inspired neurosis and hypochondria which is offset against his hard nosed look. His acting style is natural and free flowing and he presents a realistic albeit heightened portrayal of the typical fish out of water. I liked that the Jack character wasn’t the typical Europeanised version of an American but was rather educated about the world outside the ‘land of the free’. His character is also very likeable, as is that of Marion. Julie Delpy’s Marion feels like a real character and almost like an extension of the actress herself. She is passionate and cultured and the sort of character I’d want to converse with. Delpy doesn’t strike me as the strongest actress but the character suits her well and she is very good in the role, switching between two languages with ease. Delpy’s real life parents Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet play her characters parents and provide a lot of laughs while the terrific Daniel Bruhl has a small but effective cameo.

I enjoyed Two Days in Paris a lot. It’s not a perfect film but it spoke to me. I connected with it and much in the same way as Roman Polanski’s Carnage; I thought it was a much better film than it probably was. It’s smart, witty, good looking, well acted and interesting and for my money did everything it set out to do. I also preferred it to Two Days in New York so have to give it…

GFR 8/10  

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