Julie Delpy seems like a director who is determined to make the same film over and over again. 2 Days In New York is the follow up to 2007’s 2 Days In Paris, but both films owe much to the Delpy/Hawke films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.
Five years on from 2 Days In New York and Marion (Delpy) is living in New York with her new boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock) and they both have children from previous relationships. As happy as they are, their relationship is tested to the limited by a two-day visit from Marion’s eccentric father (real life père Albert Delpy), her nymphomaniac sister Rose (Alexis Landeau) and Rose’s uninvited stoner boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) who also happens to be one of Marion’s exes.
It’s familiar territory for anyone that’s seen the first film or the Delpy/Hawke diptych but the observations on modern relationships are not as cutting and there’s an overreliance on rather simplistic and broad stereotyping – the French are loud and obnoxious with a peculiar penchant for shedding clothes at the drop of a hat.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to love. Chris Rock is on great form as Mingus and as the straight man surprisingly and effectively cast against type. His role is to watch in increasing befuddlement as his world is turned upside down by those kerraazy Frenchies, so much so that he’s often resigned to talking to the life-size Obama cut-out that he keeps in his office. Rock is actually so good in this role, that he should probably consider dropping the loud-mouth schtick that he’s cultivated for all these years; it certainly makes for a refreshing change.
Delpy is on good form as Marion, although now so neurotic, that it often feels like she might explode in a cloud of frantic energy. Albert Delpy gets the majority of the funny lines (a highlight being a chance meeting with an Obama staffer who he insists on calling a socialist, to the staffer’s abject horror) but there’s only so much culture-clash material that can be wrung out of the script. That might be why Delpy the screenwriter has shoe-horned in a subplot which sees her selling her soul as a piece of concept art – something which involves a bizarre cameo appearance from Vincent Gallo. It’s funny, but seems non-sequitur and out of place.
There’s a point where an art critic muses “I like the idea more than the execution” which could adequately sum up 2 Days In New York – a haphazard, fast-paced comedy which is never less than entertaining, but doesn’t have quite the edge that previous Delpy takes on relationships have had previously.