2 Days in Paris

Director: Julie Delpy

Try as we might, sometimes there’s no getting around the “it’s not you, it’s me” diplomatic paradigm in breaking up with a lover. However, in writer/director Julie Delpy’s unflinching look at thirty-somethings who try to revive their two year relationship with a trip to Europe, it’s both of them and audiences cringe throughout in recognition that not only should they not be together, we can’t imagine just who the unlikable, narcissistic characters would actually be right for. At first, we’re instinctively on Delpy’s side—she is after all Julie Delpy, the sophisticated beauty who enchanted the world with her roles in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset and proved to be a cool femme fatale in Kieslowski’s White—and in 2 Days in Paris, she seems to be playing a very thinly disguised version of herself. Like Delpy, our main character Marion has weak eyesight and she also had been in a relationship with our leading man, Adam Goldberg, and even went as far to shoot some scenes in her family home casting her own parents along with her cat. The humorous character actor Goldberg is in full Woody Allen mode, hypochondriacally suffering from a new ailment every other minute after admittedly coming down with very real food poisoning in Italy but his foul mood quickly transforms the city of love to the city of dissatisfaction when they land in Paris and he begins numerous arguments. Playing an interior designer named Jack, Goldberg is a tattooed bohemian prima donna who complains about dial up internet, numerous conditions inside Delpy’s tiny Parisian apartment and spends all of the time he's outdoors wanting to keep his travels at arm’s length by photographing the entirety of the trip, despite the fact that Europe is fully documented and his girlfriend Marion is a professional photographer. Soon after they meet up with her blunt parents, Marion and Jack bump into several ex-lovers of Marion’s with Jack’s mind running overtime in trying to translate subtle glances and conversations with thoughts of infidelity dancing through his head. Quickly, the scenes of his discomfort soon become the only thing with which we can identify as the film goes on and becomes increasingly unlikable, irritating (so many characters appear out of nowhere just to argue, shock or crudely discuss sex in ways that would freak out Kevin Smith) and bizarre. He plays his odd man out status well and pretty soon it’s Marion whom we’re blaming for the situation because most of us watching (at least in the theatre I saw it in) are Americans experiencing a decidedly unromantic version of Paris in a strange cross between Scorsese’s After Hours and Allen's Deconstructing Harry. I really wanted to admire the film, having looked forward to it not only because it seemed like a delightful yet painfully real look at relationships that may actually be authentic (it’s far from it) but also because Delpy not only wrote and directed in the film but also starred in, co-produced, and worked on the soundtrack but it may in fact be too much of a singular vision. You know things are not going well when we meet up with characters that Jack had cruelly sent in the wrong direction because they were Da Vinci Code reading Bush voters later into the film and they reappear to be spray painted and most likely attacked by vandals, yet we can’t help thinking that, despite their opposite politics and attitudes, if we had followed those characters we may have had much more fun than trailing around Jack and Marion.