2 Days in Paris Reviews
I know the French have a reputation for being rude, but surely no one encounters that many rude and awful people in one brief stay in a city. I do understand his frustration though when everyone is speaking French around him, and he can not understand it, especially when a lot f the time it is his partner.
In response to Flixster friend, Ryan Hibbett's critique of the film, I don't think Delpy is saying she hates France. She examines France's despicable qualities through an American lens, and vice versa, seeing as how she's almost an expat herself. The film pokes fun lovingly at idiosyncracies of both cultures (Jeannot's porny art and penchant for keying luxury cars vs. Jack's misanthropic treatment of his own countrymen for selfish reasons).
Also, Marion may have had a lot of ex-boyfriends, but she is not an immoral slut-bag. For one, she tearfully declines the affair with Mathieu, and for two, Delpy would reclaim that epithet in the name of feminism, this specific brand of which has roots in Simone de Beauvoir's "Manifesto of the 343 Sluts" (a no-shame pro-choice tract signed by 343 famous French feminists including Delpy's own mother, which Marie Pillet even mentions in the film). The aforementioned taxi altercation is so layered in this respect. It marks the boorishness of the French male but also the shamed pacifism of the "polite, intellectual" American male, Jack, who sits and does nothing to defend himself or his girlfriend while she expresses her ardent distaste for racism (an admirable quality) in an inebriated, vulgar, verbal castration (a less admirable quality for some, but a rousing show of feminism for her.)
Similar to the physical fracas in the cafe later, her morals behoove her to hate an ex who fucked little girls; her insatiable appetite for verbal castrations obviously behoove her to lose her temper. This little woman has a mouth on her, and she's not afraid to use it. She can be mean and annoying, but she owns it. She's not afraid to portray herself as the crazy French bitch.
Julie Delpy's score is unevenly used in this generally quietly dry indie fluff piece, and when it is used, it, kind of like the film itself, doesn't do all that much that's especially refreshing, yet it's hard not to enjoy it, as Delpy delivers on a certain tastefulness that much like the locations. Whether it be because Delpy and the French audience this film is partly made for are used to Paris, or simply because Delpy's taste in framing is sometimes so amateurish that you get the midsection of someone's face more than the background that you should be immersed in, the showcase of this film's lovely setting stands to be more celebratory, but this is still a film about exploring the streets and culture within Paris, France, so when the locations are played up, they're lavish enough to draw your eyes towards a place that you have no doubt seen time and again, at least objectively, but is always a sight for sore eyes. The film is certainly not visually appealing enough to compensate for the limited emotional appeal, but it's a charming tribute to French culture, and the leads of this tour through Paris also prove to be charming, at least on the whole. Needless to say, charm and chemistry would be sharper if the characters were more interesting, or at least more fleshed out, so no amount of charisma within this talented cast can fully compensate for the shortcomings in this character study, but it's not like the performers don't still try, and with about as much success as they can achieve, boasting a certain charm that really flourishes when the charm within Delpy's script truly hits. I don't know it's because you get used to Delpy's writing style or whatever, but it seems like sharpness in writing dies down with the momentum of the film, and it's not like Delpy's script is ever all that engaging, but it has its witty moments in humor, anchored by sharp dialogue and relative highlights in characterization that give you a glimpse at what this film could have been. Sure, the film was never going to be all that much, but it still squanders potential, something that is seen enough through all of the tasteful and charming areas that are admittedly recurring enough to come close to carrying this film out of mediocrity and into genuine decency. Sadly, in the long run, the strengths in this film don't quite make it in their noble efforts to make a decent indie rom-com, coming close, but having that sweet cigar snatched from their lips by little in the way of intrigue, and just as little in the way of uniqueness within what plot there is.
Clearly this film is doing something different, because somewhere along the way it ended up being not quite as likable as certain other indie comedies of this nature, yet blandness wouldn't be as firmly secured as it ultimately is if this film wasn't so formulaic, to where what story there is to this aimless mess feels predictable, thanks to such tropes as a tendency to make blandness in "story"telling all the more severe through a distinctly independent comedy type of meandering. I suppose I like plenty of this film's aimless spells, as they are often powered by snappy spots in writing, but when the wit in Julie Delpy's script wears off, all you're left with a excess filler that has always been there, just toned down by a bit of wit that can still never fully obscure the awkwardness within this film's keeping narrative momentum flowing, only to suddenly fall slave to filler that is so abundant that it ends up driving the film at times, to the point of igniting both repetition and a certain focal unevenness that challenge your investment and bland things up, if not dull things down. On top of turning in a bloated and aimless script, Delpy, as director, does only so much to compensate for dry writing with atmospheric liveliness, so when writing really blands up, things get pretty dull, and that's something that this film cannot afford to have, as your investment is shaken enough by issues in characterization that start with a certain something involving the opposite of the padding that plagues this film more than any other type of pacing problem. Immediate development is mighty minimal, and gradual exposition feels kind of thin, because if there's an area for substance to be fleshed out, this film will, more often than not, rush right back to the filler, though it's not like any amount of flesh-out can fully make up for the problems within the characters themselves, as they are mere average people with nothing particularly special going on in their lives, thus making them uninteresting as the central focus of this character study, which would be fine and all if the characters simply stopped at uninteresting, rather than be defined as obnoxious, rather pretentious, often rudely inconsiderate, over-the-top and all around unlikable, sometimes profoundly so, with problems that "plotting" ostensibly intends to remedy by the end, but ends up fleshing out too much for you to want to attach yourself to these jerks, whose inconsistency in behavior - spawned through anything from forced reminders of unlikable traits to jarring moments in the futile attempts to turn our leads into better people - further dilutes their compellingness (Of course, I do love the adorable chunky kitty in this film; cats are awesome). The charismatic performers behind this film try their hearts out to bring likability to their problematically drawn characters, and kind of succeed when Delpy's writing picks up, but on the whole, when the characters aren't uninteresting, they're unlikable, and that's bad, because the engagement value of characters can make or break a film of this type, and considering how disengaging the driving forces of this character piece are, it's all but impossible to ignore that natural shortcomings of this do-nothing film. On top of being carried by unengaging characters, this film's non-plot is uninteresting, being unfocused and aimless, with a paper-thin sense of conflict to its meandering and intimate meditations upon nobodies doing nothing, thus making for a distinctly indie comedy type of uncompellingness that goes made all that more intense by unlikable characters and atmospheric bland spells, and would have stood a chance of being compensated for with charm if Julie Delpy, as director, didn't plague the final product with a kind of annoyingly self-congratulatory tone. I wasn't exactly entering this film expecting a rewarding rom-com that particularly compelled, but I was kind of looking forward to seeing yet another very charming and enjoyable, perhaps relatively high-profile mumblecore-esque addition to the colorful independent film industry, and sure, Delpy promises just that early on, but as things progressed, I grew more and more aware of the lack of intrigue to this plotless tale, as well as of the lack of likability of the characters who drive it, especially with Delpy's overambition, maybe even pretense bearing down on me, begging me to attach myself to this film that just doesn't do anything unique or interesting, having just enough charm to come close to decency, but not enough to escape mediocrity.
When the vacation is all over and finally done with, you're left with only decent score work, lovely locations, some charismatic performances and witty highlights in writing to take home with you, and that's enough for the film to almost achieve genuine decency, but not enough for you to look past the formulaic structuring, unevenness in a focus that all too often falls slave to aimless filler, underdeveloped and unlikable characters, and uninteresting story that make "2 Days in Paris" a borderline likable, but ultimately pointlessly mediocre affair with little that's interesting, and even less that's memorable.
2.25/5 - Mediocre