I’ll begin this review by letting the cat out of the proverbial bag, I am a romantic at heart, and I have a very unrealistic and romanticized view of Paris. The Paris that exists in my head is one that is drawn by cinema, by Woody Allen, by films about chocolateers falling in love in the French capital, it isn’t a Paris that is drawn by trip adviser or Google Earth. Now, that’s been cleared up, let’s begin this review.
Julie Delpy, who you might know from the wonderful, charming and acclaimed trio of films, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, writes, directs and stars in this, another movie where she walks around Paris with her love interest whilst speaking of love, sex, romance, politics and all the other things you might expect. Delpy is always a joy to watch in these sorts of roles, and this one is no different, though the film does lack the charm and hope that the “Before…” movies offered.
2 Days in Paris follows Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg, Dazed & Confused), two lovers who have stopped off in Paris on their way back to New York after visiting Venice. Jack finds that, with each new interaction he has with the people in Marion’s life, he struggles with new information about the girl he loves. He meets Marion’s eccentric parents, blunt sister and array of ex-boyfriends on this journey that sees their relationship find plenty of heavy waves.
The film is enjoyable and the awkward meetings between Jack and Marion’s various acquaintances are often very humorous and allow Adam Goldberg the chance to be very sarcastic in his role of Jack, a pessimistic New Yorker who finds himself becoming more and more jealous and uncomfortable with Marion’s past.
Where the film falls, though, is its lack of optimism and tendency to lean entirely, at times, on total negativity. Jack’s concerns are understandable, much of the time, and because he doesn’t seem like a total control freak it makes Marion quite difficult to empathise with. It is subjective depending on your views of the topics that are on offer, but for the most-part I found myself feeling like Marion was putting Jack in awkward situations without any concern for his feelings, and when he opposed these issues, she all but wrote his worries off as trivial. This is one of those movies where, depending on your opinions, you will pick a side and come out of the film with one view or another.
Paris doesn’t look particularly pretty here, possibly purposefully, as we’ve seen plenty of films showing it in a very idealistic manner. It is actually quite welcoming to see the streets looking lived-in and the houses looking like the people have called them home for decades.
Overall I liked this movie, it had many similarities to the “Before…” series but was different enough that it didn’t feel like a carbon copy. The fish-out-of-water aspect of the film is enjoyable and allows anyone who has felt lost or secluded in another place to sympathise with Jack and understand his, sometimes overtly, negative attitude towards the place he is forced to spend time in.
Brilliantly written and avoiding cliques, it is impossible not to like this film, but it is also very difficult to love it.