Two days? Give me an hour and I’d have checked off most of the confused groans and intermittent fallouts the two protagonists of 2 Days in Paris find themselves pushing through, headstrong and annoyed. Immediate intimacy with a couple on holiday marks the introduction of the Julie Delpy project. She stars, narrates and directs her sophomore feature film with a confidence usually reserved for masters of the camera. What was it about Paris and its culture that proved so well in the year 2007? Ratatouille had heart and culinary creativity, and 2 Days in Paris shares some similarities. This independent darling from Delpy has charm oozing from it thanks to its adaptation to the streets of this fine city.
“Every moment was digitized and immortalised from every angle,” the narration complains. Delpy has a point, though. It is the old divide that comes from living in the moment and showcasing it. That divide is expanded upon, in literal terms, with the two leading characters. Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) are living proof that opposites do attract. They share hobbies, granted, but their walks of life do not feel familiar or collated. Jack presents himself as the more neurotic of the two, almost insufferable at times. Goldberg accepts that side to his role, and develops it a little too keenly, often shedding any likeability when his character should hold the fish-out-of-water fear. Clamouring for an audience to feel bad, Delpy and Goldberg play tug of war to see who it can compel to side with them. Which we prefer is obsolete, both are presented with articulation and strength throughout 2 Days in Paris.
Blending charming notes with unstable symptoms of adapting to new cultures from across the globe, 2 Days in Paris brings out a sentiment never really adapted in cross-country relationships in film. Language barriers, the difficulty of adapting to a variety of different cultures and old wounds all provide problems for Jack and Marion, but it is displayed with a natural procession and an essential confidence. 2 Days in Paris is not all that different to the tones of suffering found in Le Week-end or the self-doubt frequented by the work of Woody Allen. It is the writing and performance, however, that set this piece apart from those that came before it. Not vastly different, but far away enough to carve its own message and sound off in style.
Neurotics living life in the city of love makes for a thorough setting, and their adaptation to normalcy after a holiday meant to reignite their passion for one another is a seemingly dud deal. That much is shown vividly, Delpy’s direction and performance have a clear vision and an impressive range to them. “France, what a mess.” You’ve got that right Marion. She is allowed to slander her city because she knows all the corridors and corners. Her commentary on the problems and pitiful people that plague the City of Lights comes both from memory and an adaptation to the world around her. Nicely put together, and touring the streets of this fine city is a real treat, we could just do with better company.