2 Days in Paris (Germany/France, 2007)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

I thought this was a porn movie. No, wait, that's One Night in Paris. I guess two days is too long…

2 Days in Paris provides us with a familiar picture: Julie Delpy wandering the streets of the city in the company of an American she's in love with. The two spend much of the movie's 100 minutes talking as their wanderings allow the camera to follow them into areas where major films set in Paris rarely take us. (Another wisecrack at Ms. Hilton's expense seems appropriate here.) Although the narrative and structure of Delpy's film (which she directed, produced, wrote, starred in, scored, and edited) recalls the duet of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, there are critical differences. In the two Richard Linklater movies, there was palpable romantic chemistry between Delpy and her co-star, Ethan Hawke. Here, barely a flicker exists between the actress and Adam Goldberg. In Sunrise and Sunset, the dialogue turned to interesting topics and seemed to evolve naturally between the performers. In 2 Days in Paris, it's banal and feels scripted. The result is a rather dull experience featuring more than 1 1/2 hours spent in the company of two characters in which it's difficult to generate much interest.

Jack (Adam Goldberg) and Marion (Julie Delpy) have left New York to go on a European vacation designed to re-invigorate their romance. Thus far, it hasn't gone well. Their two weeks in Venice were marred by Jack's intestinal problems. Now, they have two days in Paris before going home - two days spent living under the same roof as Marion's eccentric parents, Anna and Jeannot (played by Delpy's real-life parents, Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy). Cracks begin to show in their relationship. Jack's hypochondria goes into overdrive and Marion is seized by insecurity. As ex-lovers appear to greet her, she lies about her past in an attempt to shield Jack - a goal that ultimately backfires.

2 Days in Paris isn't about much. People talk, argue, philosophize, and talk some more. Most of what they say doesn't mean a lot (although there are a few pointed jabs at the Bush administration and an attempt to address the racial tensions that exist in France). The intent is for the words to illuminate the characters, bringing them closer to the audience, but it doesn't happen. It's difficult to remain interested in these individuals and what they're saying. Their relationship seems to be on auto-pilot. I believe the movie is trying to make a statement about maturing love (that which exists in a relationship past the "honeymoon stage"), but whatever the message is, it comes across as muddled and unsure.

If nothing else, this is Julie Delpy's movie. She wears every major hat except cinematographer. Her fingerprints are all over it. If this is the kind of production that attracts her, it's easy to see the appeal of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset to her. (One wonders whether she tried to recruit Ethan Hawke for the male lead.) Although some of the dialogue is improvised, most spilled out of Delpy's pen. She allows herself to be photographed in unflattering light, at times wearing little or no makeup. Her natural, unforced acting is one of the movie's strengths.

Indeed, there's nothing wrong with any of the performances. Adam Goldberg is fine as Jack, although the character isn't well fleshed out. Delpy's off-screen Mom and Dad play her on-screen parents, and one can hope their flamboyance is not representative of their real-life personalities. The characters are grating and over-the-top: the kinds of individuals who have given Parisians a bad world-wide reputation. I'd rather go hungry than sit down to munch on braised rabbit with these people.

It's unfair to say that nothing happens during the course of 2 Days in Paris, but what does occur requires far less than 100 minutes to convey. Curiously, what is arguably the movie's most important conversation isn't shown. Instead, a synopsis is provided by Delpy in a voice-over. This allows the movie to have some sort of closure without demanding 15 minutes of dialogue to provide it. However, since 90% of the movie's heartfelt emotions surface during the scene, the way in which it is presented feels like a cheat. Also, it's probably best not to mention the film's occasional forays into "comedy." They come across as more awkward than funny.

It's uncomfortable to take a negative stance against something that is so plainly a labor of love. But the sad truth is that the movie doesn't offer enough to make it interesting or even diverting. It's a better bet for DVD viewing, where it can put you to sleep in a comfortable easy chair rather than in one of the theater's seats. Or, if you want more action and less talk, you can always spend less time in Paris… one night, for example.

2 Days in Paris (Germany/France, 2007)

Director: Julie Delpy
Cast: Adam Goldberg, Julie Delpy, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy
Screenplay: Julie Delpy
Cinematography: Lubomir Bakchev
Music: Julie Delpy
U.S. Distributor: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Run Time: 1:42
U.S. Release Date: 2007-08-10
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity)
Genre: DRAMA
Subtitles: Some English subtitled French
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1