Posted on 8/31/12 03:25 AM
Julie Delpy is improving as a filmmaker. "2 Days in New York," her new film, is a nice improvement over her 2007 release, "2 Days in Paris." It's a little uninspiring that the films are so alike and have basically the same title. But Delpy is getting so good at this genre that I wouldn't mind if she did a few more. How about 2 Days in Berlin, Los Angeles, or Tokyo? What would her take on those cities be?
Here she plays a French woman living in New York and married to an American, who is played by Chris Rock. It's inspired casting. Rock is a good actor and has screen charisma. His presence also allows the film to take on American racial issues, which it does with a light comic touch. His character is named Mingus. I loved that little tribute to American jazz. The French have always loved American jazz (and all the brainier forms of black American culture), much more than white Americans have.
The couple and their children play host to Delpy's unusual family, who arrive from France in a whirlwind of goofball comedy. Dad speaks no English and has many quirks. He is played by Delpy's real-life father, adding a pinch of post-modernism.
The sister is an exhibitionist. One of the funniest sequences involves the sister parading around the apartment in only a blouse (no pants or underwear) when the couple has guests. I don't exactly know why, but I kept roaring over this. Watching the guests try not to look at her was hilarious. Watching the sister pretend like everything was normal was also very funny.
The sister's boyfriend is a pot smoker who blithely brings drug dealers to the couple's apartment as if they're friendly neighborhood mailmen. The French have a great comic tradition, which is rarely seen in this country. I'm not sure why, but French comedies rarely get released in the US. You have to live in France to see them. I'm delighted that Delpy is bringing some of that zany French farce to our shores.
The French family that comes to visit is not the only source of comedy. There are also 100 or so great one-liners and comic situations between Delpy and Rock. It's a sparkling script, directed and acted with real verve. The editing is crisp and bright, giving the film a perfect rhythm.
My only concern is that Delpy's style is basically an imitation of Woody Allen. Very urban and talky, with much of the comedy derived from the characters' colorful quirks and neuroses. It's great fun but quite derivative. Delpy is not exhibiting much originality or range as a filmmaker.
But I recently learned that she has made a few films that weren't released in the US, including one based on the legend of Countess Bathory, the Transylvanian princess who allegedly murdered many girls and drank their blood. Perhaps the problem is less with Delpy than with the global distributors, who only seem to be interested in her imitations of Woody Allen.