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France/Germany 2007
Directed by
Julie Delpy
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
2.5 stars

2 Days In Paris

Synopsis: French photographer Marion (Julie Delpy) and American graphic designer Jack (Adam Goldberg) have lived together in America for some time and are trying to re-inject some pizzazz into their relationship by taking a European vacation, capped off with a visit to Marion’s parents in Paris. What should be a romantic two days is made difficult by the fact that the parents speak no English but even more so by the fact that Paris seems populated by an inordinate number of Marion’s ex-boyfriends.

Delpy is probably best known to us for her two excellent films with Ethan Hawke – Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, basically real-time talk fests in which two people meet and walk and talk in the streets if Paris, then, in the second film, years later they meet to see how their lives have progressed. I loved both films and recognise that Delpy is trying to do something similar here yet I just don’t find the characters or what they have to say here anywhere as interesting .

Probably what the dialogue captures best is the sort of insane arguments people who live together get into. It’s something those of us enjoying connubial bliss will easily recognize. There is something of the Woody Allenesque about the circular conversations in which blame and misunderstanding are constantly shifted from one to the other.

Jack is not a particularly personable character – he whines endlessly, is allergic to everything and seems unable to get into the spirit of Paris or Marion’s family. This is however made difficult by the language barrier and that he is aware that jibes he doesn’t understand are being made at his expense. As the couple stay in a little flat above the parents (who by the way are Delpy’s real-life actor parents), their intimacy is interrupted by Marion’s mother and every time they go somewhere Marion bumps into one of her ex’s, which starts to raise Jack’s suspicions. Is his girl in fact just a little tramp? The green-eyed monster of jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship.

There is a curious feeling of things not being very authentic in this film. Did it really take a trip to Paris for these two to realise how unsuited they are to each other? Would Marion really make such a scene with her ex-boyfriend that she gets turfed out of a restaurant? Would any parents be so insensitive to their daughter’s boyfriend? And this couple seem to have so little chemistry together it’s no wonder their sex life is a shambles!

The film tries superficially to look at cultural differences between Americans and French with particular emphasis upon the French being supposedly so sexually liberated. There is the occasional reference to racism in Paris, but it all feels like tokenism.

Generally some pleasure can be derived from observing some of the common elements in relationships; people’s fears, insecurities and quirks, but given that Delpy wrote, directed, edited, scored and starred in the film, it’s perhaps expecting a bit to much for it to be a raging success.

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