Thanks to Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and a rumored third film in that series, Julie Delpy is already associated with one of the screen’s most vivid and moving love affairs. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to examine the perils of modern romance as a writer and director. With 2 Days in New York, the French actress continues the humanistic tradition of the Linklater films while adding her own layer of idiosyncrasies.
A sequel to Delpy’s earlier movie 2 Days in Paris, this film picks up with her character Marion, now separated from Jack (played in the previous picture by Adam Goldberg) and raising two children with her live-in boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock), a Village Voice writer and talk-radio host. Marion is stressed because her beloved father Jeannot (Albert Delpy, Julie’s real-life father), her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s obnoxious boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon, who co-wrote the script with Delpy) are coming for a visit so they can attend Marion’s art opening, which consists primarily of photographs that detail her failed relationship with Jack. During the course of 48 hours, Marion and Mingus will consider breaking up, Manu will get deported, and Marion will sell her soul to an unlikely buyer (as part of her art installation).
For an actress whose most memorable moments involve her characters being in the throes of a motormouthed neurotic tailspin, Delpy maintains an easy, laid-back directorial approach. She likes her characters, even when they probably don’t deserve to be liked, and this breezy style allows all of the actors enough room to register with the audience. When everybody sits down to eat in Marion and Mingus’ cramped apartment, they all talk over each other, but Delpy keeps our attention where she wants it without making a big deal about it. We can follow the awkward conversation between Mingus and Marion’s dad just as easily as Marion’s incessant bickering with her sister because Delpy expertly captures the rhythm and feel of a chaotic family dinner.
The screenplay doesn’t arrive at any profundities that other life-affirming comedies haven’t already covered, but the actors are so appealing, and the tone so offhand, that it’s enjoyable to be around these people. The biggest surprise in the bunch turns out to be Chris Rock, who, for the first time in his career, sheds any semblance of his stand-up persona while still being charming and witty. He blossoms here, as he finds a perfect comic foil in Delpy and even sounds like a radio host -- as opposed to a comic -- during the on-air monologues he delivers about how Marion’s family are driving him crazy. Rock has stated on numerous occasions how much he admires Woody Allen’s films, and it’s great to see him in a movie that looks and sounds like Woody at his strongest.
The Big Apple provides a number of locations for the film, and the story touches on the mythic nature of America’s most renowned city -- a place where different cultures collide, love blossoms, and arty celebrities appear unexpectedly at galleries. Stripped of references to current events, the movie still plays as a beautiful little tale of inclusiveness and love. leave a comment --Perry Seibert