Friday, September 07, 2007

2 Days in Paris

I'm proud of this review, not because it's close to the best I've ever written, but because I got all the way through without mentioning Before Sunrise or Before Sunset. That may not sound like that big an accomplishment, but look at any other review or article about this film online (I'm partisan, I know, but I especially like Peter Sobczynskis interview on Hollywood Bitch-slap/eFilmCritic. You can't avoid it, even though they're very different movies.

And now I've gone and ruined it.

2 Days in Paris

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 26 August 2007 at Landmark Kendall Square #1 (first-run)

About eight years ago, Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy did a pilot for an American television series, True Love, which would have been a romantic comedy about an American guy and a French girl falling in love in New York. ABC chose not to pick it up and it vanished into the limbo to which such things are consigned. It would be interesting to see it pop up as a DVD extra for 2 Days in Paris, because I strongly suspect that the contrast would be, to say the least, striking.

Here, they play Jack and Marion, who have been together in New York for two years and are now reaching the end of a European vacation, stopping off to see Marion's family and friends in Paris before returning home. This is, of course, even more of a minefield than you might expect - two years is just long enough for irritations to build but that which sparked initial attraction to be taken for granted, and Jack's got his share of irritating qualities. On the flip side, it's also long enough that anything new you learn about your partner will likely be (or at least be seen as) something they tried to keep hidden - like Marion's eccentric parents and ex-boyfriends.

Ah, but this is Paris; true love must prevail, no? Well, maybe. Julie Delpy wrote, directed, edited, produced, composed the music and probably drew the stick figures that decorate the closing credits; for her and Marion, Paris is home, as opposed to some idealized city, and we all know home is not perfect. Delpy seems to take an almost perverse glee in exploding the myth of Paris: The cemetery at Pére-Lachaise is overrun with obnoxious tourists, there's fungus in the couple's bathroom, the French eat animals that Americans keep as pets, and each taxicab driver they meet is more obnoxious and racist than the last. It's still a beautiful city, Delpy just isn't going to ascribe magical romance powers to it - at least, not when they can do any good.

Full review at HBS

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