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USA 2012
Directed by
Julie Delpy
91 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3 stars

2 Days In New York

Synopsis: Marion (Julie Delpy) lives in New York with talk radio host Mingus (Chris Rock) and each of their children by a former relationship. When Marion’s father, Jeannot (Albert Delpy), along with over-sexed sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and her obnoxious boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), visit to attend a photographic exhibition of Marion’s work all manner of family mayhem ensues.

2 Days In New York picks up its story some years after Delpy’s directorial debut, 2 Days In Paris left off. As with that film, here Delpy also writes, directs and stars. Just to fill in for folks who missed the Paris instalment, its script cleverly incorporates a puppet show into the opening scene, with Marion ostensibly telling her daughter the family history but also giving the audience all the plot background they need. This done, we get a brief primer on how Marion and Mingus got together. Then enter the French relatives and it’s on for young and old.

Manu, also an ex-boyfriend of Marion, is a sleaze while Rose seems determined to flaunt herself, oblivious of the inappropriateness of her dress, or lack thereof! Conversation flows fast and furious, but much is lost in the endless attempts by smart-arsed but ignorant Manu to translate English into French and consistently getting it wrong.  Jeannot is an annoying, but well-meaning bumbler, the two sisters bicker like children whilst the actual children exhibit some pretty bizarre behaviour. Mingus good-naturedly tries to placate all while on his radio show he ponders the vagaries of the French and at home airs his frustrations to a cardboard cut-out of Barak Obama.

Not a lot really happens in this film. Much of it relies upon the dialogue and the interactions between the characters and there is something very charming and gentle about the whole thing. It’s inevitable to draw some comparison with its dialogue and Woody Allen’s style of banter in which neuroses are revealed and family aggravations exacerbated, especially as this lot are cooped up together in such a small space. The authenticity of family interaction is palpable and crucial to the feel of the film and Delpy’s dialogue captures it well. We discover that, despite their differences, the family need and love each other.

One odd plot point concerns Marion’s exhibition in which she decides to sell a piece which is representative of her soul. Much is made, in a somewhat contrived fashion, of this Faustian reference, whilst the man to whom she sells the piece is a surprise indeed! Perhaps influenced by her appearance in the stunning dialogue-driven Before Sunset Delpy felt she had to inject some deeper, reflective content into this film but for me it felt forced and didn’t really work.

What works best is the lovely relationship conjured up between Marion and Mingus. It’s a delight to see Rock setting aside the loud abrasive sort of character he usually plays and we see that he really can act. Delpy, as usual, is just lovely – her unpretentious style makes her feel like the most real of all the characters.

Whilst nothing earth-shattering, 2 Days In New York is a charmingly light-hearted, good-natured film that should hit the sweet spot when some comic relief and Gallic goofiness is needed.

 

 

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