2 Days in Paris, 96 mins,
rated tba, opening in cinemas 26 December 2007
By MICHELE ASPREY, Lawyer
(This is my review as published
in the December 2007 issue of The New South Wales Law Society
Sometimes it is best to see a film knowing very little about it.
With 2 Days in Paris, all I
was that it was directed by French actress, Julie Delpy. I remembered
her from Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three
Colours trilogy of films (1993-4), and from Richard Linklater’s
films Before Sunrise (1995)
and Before Sunset (2004).
What I didn’t know was that as well as directing and starring in 2 Days in Paris, Delpy also wrote,
produced and edited it, composed the score, sang at least one song, and
cast her real-life parents as her parents in the film. She must be
exhausted – though there are precedents. Orson Welles, Clint Eastwood
and Charlie Chaplin are similar polymaths (Orson Welles arranged the
music for a couple of his films and Chaplin and Eastwood regularly
composed all their films’ music). That’s exalted company.
So as this film began, and I realised that Delpy would be everywhere in
it, my heart sank, thinking this would be the ultimate vanity project.
I needn’t have worried. After a slightly pretentious start the film
finds its feet, sets its tone and we are off at a rollicking pace,
tracing the relationship of a pair of lovers spending 2 eventful and
revealing days in Paris.
Delpy has made a movie that is both funny and clever. As it begins, the
lovers Marion and Jack (Delpy and Adam Goldberg) have just had a
holiday in Venice that was intended to be romantic, but ended up
disastrous. And no wonder: Jack is a very annoying character, a
hypochondriac whinger. He’s also a conundrum. He’s a hairy, tattooed
New Yorker – and an interior designer.
The couple have decided to visit Paris for 2 days, and to stay with
Marion’s parents, hilariously played by Marie Pillet as an aged
ex-hippy groupie who’s now obsessed with cooking and cleaning, and
Albert Delpy as an gruff and earthy art-gallery owner whose art is all
pornographic. All the performances are wonderful and the dialogue is
often laugh-out-loud funny. At times it’s as if Woody Allen and Diane
Keaton went to Paris, but Delpy can’t decide if she’s Woody or Diane.
Either way it’s very funny.
The film also explores serious issues: we may think we know someone,
but not know them at all. We may find – as Jack does with Marion’s
prior, numerous and varied Parisian lovers – that we don’t want to know
them that way. Then what do we do?
2 Days in Paris is no Amelie. The Paris we see is not
romanticised. This Paris is populated by users, snobs, sex-deviants and
racists. Racism is an especially sore point with the French. Their
colonial history is not covered in glory, and they are still dealing
with the consequences. In one scene a cabdriver recites a litany of
racist abuse and Marion takes him on fully and gloriously. It’s an
amusing scene with a very hard edge. In another scene, Jack is nearly
arrested for purse snatching, merely because he has olive-skin and a
lot of dark hair. In fact, nearly everyone marks him as either a Jew or
The film suffers from some beginner-type errors, mostly in the first
few minutes. For example, Delpy moves the camera to accord with the
narration. When the narrator says “up” the camera goes up, and it’s
annoying. There’s a whole backstory about Marion having very restricted
eyesight, which affects her view of the world. Yet Marion is a
professional photographer, and her eyesight never seems to restrict her
actions. Also, while Goldberg is a talented comedic actor, his
hairiness and extensive tattoos are so distracting that I found it hard
to believe him as an interior designer. Goldberg and Delpy were once
lovers in real life, so perhaps she didn’t see these as distractions.
If you have read my review before seeing 2 Days in Paris, you will not see
the film as I did, knowing little about it. But I hope that you agree
that this film is about as far as you can get from a vanity project.
It’s the work of multi-talented artist and budding auteur.