After two years together, French photographer Marion (Delpy) and American interior designer Jack (Goldberg) have lost the spark in their relationship. In an attempt to rekindle it they spend two days in Paris, home of Marions challenging parents - plus
Those familiar with Julie Delpy’s earlier work, in particular Befores Sunrise and Sunset - the latter earning her a co-screenwriting Oscar nom - will be unsurprised that 2 Days In Paris, Delpy’s directorial debut (alongside acting and writing duties), is marked by the perception, wry humour and relationship insights for which her characters have become known.
Perhaps inevitably comparisons will be made with Sunset, 2 Days following a couple around a delightful - if more bohemian - Paris as their relationship is dissected and examined. Yet as Delpy herself is keen to point out, this is a very different film - even if for Sunset fans it acts as an interesting counterpoint.
Far more comedy than straight romance, this is a couple two years down the line, battling the daily irritations, crossed wires and simple ennui that can hit anyone after the honeymoon period wears off.
Placing the bickering pair in the city of romance is a fun idea in itself, and Delpy clearly enjoys the humour of such juxtaposition. Much of the comedy centres on the clash of two quite different cultures, American Jack (an endearingly hangdog Adam Goldberg) fretful over everything from germs (Marion’s flat is a horrifying “Petri dish”) to terrorist attacks, Marion’s maman et papa (played by Delpy’s own parents) - and a disconcerting number of lecherous ex-boyfriends - apparently obsessed with sex, shouting, smoking and scary food.
But it’s not all about the laughs; beneath the satire is an almost ever-present but not displeasing sombre undertone, bringing a bittersweet note to the comedy as Delpy also offers a considered examination of the sometimes harsh realities of love. It seems Marion and Jack are existing largely in anxious isolation - Marion’s solo voiceover is telling - beset by jealousies and insecurity, more likely to snap than really talk.
As the film builds to its possible crisis, by way of a round of chic Parisian soirées and a neatly ironic subplot featuring Daniel Brühl’s animal rights activist, Delpy’s tone becomes serious. Some may find this shift jarring, throwing into question what 2 Days In Paris really wants to be, but Delpy has the wit, sensitivity and skill to pull her disparate thoughts into an unusual, affecting whole.
Quirky, fresh and sharply intelligent. A promising debut for director Delpy, both thought-provoking and painfully funny.