French actress turned filmmaker Julie Delpy's rueful, occasionally very funny comedy of cross-cultural relationship woes is sharply written and flawlessly acted by a cast that includes her parents actors Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet as her parents and her ex Adam Goldberg as her boyfriend.
A photographer who's based in New York but owns an apartment in Paris in the same building as her parents Rabelaisian artist Jeannot, who specializes in sexually graphic images, and former radical Anna Marion (Delpy) has been with Jack (Goldberg), an interior designer, for two years. After spending a less-than-idyllic week in Venice, they're stopping over in Paris for two days before returning to the U.S., ostensibly to pick up their cat, Jean-Luc. Jack isn't a good traveler: He's a bundle of allergies, migraines, hypochondria, paranoia he won't ride the subway because of terrorists and insecurities that are magnified by the fact that he speaks only a few words of French and imagines that everyone is always talking about him. As indeed they are. "He's not like the morons you usually bring home," her father declares magnanimously in French over lunch, shortly after Anna has made ribald sport of Jack's private parts Marion thoughtlessly shared a nude photo of Jack with her parents and sister, Rose (Alexia Landeau). Marion's exes seem to be everywhere there's writer Manu (Alex Nahon), artist Mathieu (Adan Jodorowsky) and international aid worker Gael (Thibault De Lussy) and Jack and Marion can't so much as walk down the street or order brunch at a cafe without running into one. And to Jack's intense discomfort, Marion has remained on friendly terms with most of them. Over the course of their increasingly fractious 48 hours in Paris, Jack becomes increasingly convinced that Marion has been unfaithful. Marion dismisses his suspicions, but becomes ever more confrontational and defensive, so much so that she begins to look a little crazy.
Though Delpy's second feature has been compared to Woody Allen's early films, it's not as smugly self-centered and is far more generous. Jack is a pain, Marion is high-strung, and her family is eccentric. But their tics and mannerisms are an inextricable part of who they are, and Delpy suggests that love isn't about the quest for perfection, it's about finding someone whose assets outweigh the flaws and hoping that that person is mature enough to do the same for you. Weighty and downbeat though that sounds, her film is delightfully light, especially when it's parsing the infinite variety of horrible French cabbies. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh