2 Days in New York
Julie Delpy, director and co-script w/Alexia Landeau
Starring: Julie Delpy (Marion), Chris Rock (Mingus), Albert Delpy (as Jeannot, Marion’s father), Alexia Landeau (Rose, Marion’s sister), Alexandre Nahon (Manu)
Reviewed by Marc Glassman
Julie Delpy is an international Indie icon. Born in France and discovered by Jean-Luc Godard who cast her in the film Detective when she was 14, Delpy starred in films by European auteurs Krzysztof Kieslowski (Three Colours: White), Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) and Bertrand Tavernier (La passion Beatrice) before she was 26. Moving to the U.S., she found her greatest acclaim to date with Richard Linklater’s Indie hit Before Sunrise (1995), in which Delpy played a French girl attracted to an American tourist played by then-heartthrob Ethan Hawke. Their intense chemistry on film and famously improvised dialogue inspired the successful sequel Before Sunset (2005).
Now a naturalized American and NYU film graduate, Delpy has directed several films, the most prominent being 2 Days in Paris, a quirky comedy made in 2007. The new film 2 Days in New York, the inevitable comic follow-up, has Delpy reprise her role as Marion. Once again, she is accompanied by her real life father Albert as “Marion’s dad” and close friends and collaborators Alexia Landeau and Alexandre Nahon as sister Rose and boyfriend Manu.
The film naturally generated a lot of buzz at Sundance and Tribeca, the festivals that most happily serve up American Indies. Now, we’ll see if mainstream—or even commercial arthouse—audiences will embrace it.
Comedy both sophisticated and slapstick; Interracial humour; clash of culture comedy (between France and the U.S., between whites and African-Americans)
Marion, a French artist is happily living in New York with her relatively new journalist boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock), when chaos descends upon them in the form of her family—father Jeannot, sister Rose and boyfriend Manu. The trio has barely arrived from France when Jeannot is nearly arrested at U.S. Customs for trying to sneak in sausages. Soon, uninhibited Rose starts parading nearly nude in front of Mingus while Manu spends most of his time trying to score weed. Although Marion and Mingus are leading a bohemian lifestyle raising their kids from previous relationships in Manhattan, their lives have been relatively placid before this invasion from France. Over the next two days, as Marion’s conceptual art show has its opening—the ostensible reason for her family’s trip—Mingus and she have to endure the crazy shenanigans of a trio of French exhibitionists.
Delpy is just fine as Marion—but then, this is her film. More of a revelation is Chris Rock, who tones down his stand-up comedy badass routine to deliver an engrossing performance as Mingus. As for the French contingent, Alexia Landeau is particularly good playing off Julie Delpy as quarreling sisters in rat-a-tat dialogue scenes while Albert Delpy is charmingly over-the-top as Jeannot. Alexandre Nahon hardly registers at all as a boorish and egotistical tourist.
The given wisdom is that comedy is the hardest form to direct. If you’re not laughing, you know it’s not working. Delpy has set herself a tough task, trying to devise scenes that feel real but have to be played out in a slapstick manner. The film seems to be improvised though I suspect that most of the scenes were set in rehearsal before the cameras rolled.
You can hardly call 2 Days in New York a success but I must admit that I laughed a few times and was charmed by the chemistry between Delpy and Rock. If you go to this film, keep your expectations low and you might be pleasantly surprised. But, as they used to say in Brooklyn, “a hit? It ain’t!”