Saturday, January 31, 2009

2 Days in Paris-a truly romantic comedy

For the purpose of full disclosure I'll start off by saying that I'm completely in love with Julie Delpy and have been for the past few years. I'd seen her in various movies before, but after seeing her with Ethan Hawke in the Richard Linklater masterpiece Before Sunrise and its equally brilliant follow-up Before Sunset, I was totally smitten. Delpy was born to 2 French actors, and she began acting on stage at the ripe old age of 5, starting in movies not too much later, and moving to New York City to study film at 21 (becoming a naturalized US citizen in 2001). She's spoken at least 3 languages on screen (English, French, and German) and even released a self-titled album in 2003. She's an obviously diversified person, but it's still surprising to see her credits on 2 Days in Paris, where she serves as director, writer, producer, lead actress, editor, and composer of the score (one of the songs from her album is also used in the movie). It's a romantic comedy about Marion (Delpy) and her boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) coming back from vacationing in Venice and stopping in Paris for a couple of days to see her friends and family before going back home to New York. The movie is classified as a romantic-comedy, and it really is, but it's a much higher quality movie than that classification might normally suggest.

Unlike many rom-coms, 2 Days in Paris is both funny and romantic. Much of the comedy comes from Jack being a fish out of water in France. He doesn't speak French (more than a few words), he doesn't like France, and he definitely doesn't understand the French people. Being back in Marion's hometown, staying in the apartment she bought upstairs from her parents, dealing with her outrageous father, and running into a few ex-boyfriends along the way really puts a strain on their relationship. One hilarious scene in particular that stands out is when Marion and Jack eat a lunch prepared by her father consisting of a sort of rabbit stew. Jack mentions that he had a pet rabbit when he was a kid and isn't thrilled about munching down on his kin, but will do it anyway so he won't offend Marion's father. When the conversation between Marion and her dad angrily flares up a minute or two later (in French), Jack insists that it isn't a big deal, really, he'll eat the rabbit, which is not even remotely what they were fighting about. The romance in the movie comes out of whether or not their relationship will endure these torturous two days. Both keep themselves at somewhat of a distance, she still flirts with ex-boyfriends (always keeping someone on the backburner, relationship wise) and he's obsessed with photographing everywhere they go (constantly removing himself from the moment to take a picture). Sometimes you think they will endure, and sometimes not. And this not exactly being a Meg Ryan movie, you're not even really sure how it's going to end.

It's a wonderfully written movie, with realistically intelligent dialog and characters. For the most part we just follow Jack and Marion, I think every scene has one or both of them in it, so it's a blessing to see that it's so well acted by Goldberg and Delpy. I find something inherently likable in both of them, possibly swayed by previously seeing and loving Delpy in Before Sunrise/Sunset and Goldberg in Dazed and Confused, the other of director Richard Linklater's masterpieces. Delpy also steers the movie in the right way as a director, never letting it become just about the laughs (although there are many) or just about the romance, or just about the weird art that the French love so much (she even lets us laugh at that more than once).

It's a terrifically real romantic comedy, wonderfully written and directed by Julie Delpy, superbly acted by Delpy and Adam Goldberg, and well worth joining them on the hysterically hellish ride through these 48 hours.

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