Transatlantic tensions worked for the sophomore effort of Julie Delpy, whose work on 2 Days in Paris saw a couple wrought with a longing to settle down in different spaces. Seemingly unable to come up with an agreement, 2 Days in New York follows Marion (Delpy) as she returns to the streets that once felt so cold and bleak. Living there would mean failure. Her previous partner is gone, leaving only a child behind as a remnant of their relationship. Instead of the relationship between America and France, the international relationship is put on ice to deal with how different countries and cultures grieve and love in the confines of a small apartment, one of many dotted around the city that never sleeps.
Where Delpy and Adam Goldberg had strong chemistry, there is a similar nicety to the relationship between Delpy and Chris Rock. Now, Marion and Mingus (Rock) are living. Happily? That much is to be considered by the audience. We see the sparks that set their relationship off and can compare it rather immediately to where they are now. Mingled within are notes of racism and sexual frankness, but Delpy retains her style as a director. She sacrifices nothing, doubling down on what made 2 Days in Paris so good. Double does not mean better, though. While 2 Days in New York is broader, it is not better. There is more to discuss and digest, but less time to do it.
At least with more divergence of discussion, there are, objectively, more for these characters to do and say. Returning supports feel caricatured and stripped down from their deepened selves. 2 Days in Paris gave Parisians sharing their life and experience, warts and all, with a visiting couple. Delpy’s return to Marion and her life sees her turn the tables on her characters, with a charm that takes some time to warm to. Albert Delpy and Alexia Landeau return, but their roles feel stripped down to the bare essentials. It is a warm return for them both, at least they are offered decent material instead of lacking development. Rose is initially flirty with Mingus, while Jeannot struggles to adapt to his new surroundings, for he speaks little English and does not care to learn it. Who can blame him? He speaks the language of love but uses it coarsely and with vehemence.
Expressed passion and anguish is necessary to the inner workings of 2 Days in New York. With a lighter touch and a definite mixing of influence from Eric Rohmer and Woody Allen, Delpy has mixed the two well enough to warrant a second outing for Marion. Enough slick wordplay to win over those looking for a bite out of the Big Apple, 2 Days in New York has more to say but does so with less engagement. Where it excels in commentating on the high society, freedom fuelled lifestyle of the creative and the social etiquette they must adhere to, it fails to bring the Parisian-born characters to the limelight as it once did. Its shift in focus is not a necessary one, but the damage is done. Our two days in New York are light and breezy but filled with morose tones and another clash of cultures.