Directed by: Julie Delpy.
Written by: Julie Delpy and Alexia Landeau and Alexandre Nahon.
Starring: Chris Rock (Mingus), Julie Delpy (Marion), Albert Delpy (Jeannot), Alexia Landeau (Rose), Alexandre Nahon (Manu), Kate Burton (Bella), Dylan Baker (Ron), Vincent Gallo (Himself).
I found Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York to be a painfully claustrophobic film – and not in a good way. I simply could not wait to get away from the supporting cast of this movie which is full of the most obnoxious and annoying characters I could imagine. The fact that they are all French doesn’t help much. In fact, they are such perfect examples of the most obvious, French stereotypes imaginable, if Delpy herself – and her co-writers - were not French, you could argue that this offensive to French people.
The film is a quasi-sequel to Delpy’s 2007 film 2 Days in Paris – which was better than this film, but not by much – with Delpy once again playing Marion, the neurotic artist, who once again, has to introduce her boyfriend to her family. In 2 Days in Paris, it was New Yorker Adam Goldberg who was the fish out of water in Paris, who meets her eccentric family – and a seeming never ending stream of ex-boyfriends who seem to be on every corner. This time, she is living in New York, raising her young son with her new boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock), who is also raising his daughter from a previous relationship. She is still a neurotic artist, this time on the eve of her biggest show to date where the biggest item for sale will be her soul. Mingus keeps her grounded – he is a calmer, more stable radio show host. Her family – her lovably eccentric father (played by Delpy’s real life father Albert), her shrill, annoying exhibitionist sister (co-writer Alexia Landeau) and her annoying boyfriend (the other co-writer Alexandre Nahon), who just happens to be another of Marion’s ex-boyfriends come for a visit. And almost immediately, they start driving Mingus crazy. I suppose I was supposed to find Marion’s family amusing – but I just found them annoying and obnoxious. Like Mingus, I just wanted to get away from them as fast as humanly possible. Since much of the movie takes place in their small apartment, I simply felt trapped.
Delpy is obviously inspired by the work of Woody Allen – you can see that in the way she tries to capture the romance of New York in her direction, and in her music choices, and in the way she casts herself as the neurotic lead (and I do not think it’s a coincidence that both Rock and Delpy at times wear Woody-style glasses). But even at his worst, Woody has never made a film this shrill and annoying. This film even makes me appreciate one of Woody’s biggest misfires – To Rome with Love from earlier this summer.
It should be said that Chris Rock is actually quite good in this film. He is the straight man to Delpy’s broader character, but while she doesn’t carry her role very well, he pretty much nails his performance. Perhaps it’s simply because I felt just like Mingus while watching this film – just trying to get the movie to end, but this a real performance by Rock – that goes a little deeper than most of his work, where he simply plays a version of his comic persona.
As much as I hated 2 Days in New York, there is a brilliant scene in it that you should see. After literally selling her soul, Marion has second thoughts and decides she wants it back – and finally tracks down who bought it – Vincent Gallo, playing himself. Their meeting is hilarious from start to finish; mainly because Gallo is having a blast playing on his own, strange image (I am not surprised that he would be interested in buying someone’s soul). But this scene also brings out the best in Delpy as well – this was the one scene in the movie I actually liked her. I would have much rather had seen a 90 minute of this meeting than the rest of the crap that Delpy puts on screen. Most of 2 Days in Paris is awful – but it does have a genius five minute sequence in it.