I found Julie Delpy’s 2007 film 2 Days in Paris, about a Frenchwoman who brings her neurotic New York boyfriend to meet her neurotic family in Paris, to be extremely funny and became an instant fan of this French female Woody Allen, who writes, directs and acts in her own movies. But then she came out with the absolutely awful The Countess (2009) – a humorless costume drama about a 17th-century aristocrat who murders young virgins so she can use their blood as a wrinkle-prevention lotion – and I burned my fan club membership card.
Like Woody Allen, Delpy seems to go off track when she tries to do serious fiction and makes better films when she stays in a humorous autobiographical vein, like her next film Le Skylab, about the excitement and fear caused at a family reunion in Brittany in 1979 by the possibility that the defunct space station Skylab would crash to earth there and kill them all. That film, amusing and touching but rather fluffy, somewhat redeemed Delpy’s reputation for me, but I was not yet ready to ask for a replacement fan-club card.
When I heard about the recent release of 2 Days in New York, in which Delpy turns the plane around and ships her character Marion’s French family to New York to visit her and her boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock), and little boy, Lulu, I hoped for the best. Alas, while the sequel has a number of good premises (e.g., struggling artist Marion decides to sell her soul to the highest bidder at an exhibition of her photos to attract publicity) and some mildly funny moments, the whole tone of the film is overwrought to the point of hysteria, with the characters constantly arguing and shouting at each other, making the usually manic Chris Rock seems positively Zen compared to the rest of the cast.
As Marion’s father Jeannot, actor Albert Delpy (Delpy’s real father), continues to overplay the leering (almost drooling) sex-obsessed Frenchman he portrayed in 2 Days in Paris, while the slutty sister, Rose (Alexia Landeau), whose collagen-enhanced lips look as if they are about to burst, likes to run around naked in front of strangers and fight with her sister.
There is no real plot, just the suspense of wondering if the visit of the crazy family will destroy Marion’s relationship with Mingus. And the rather saccharine ending makes you wonder if Delpy hasn’t been living in the United States too long and watching too much TV. She has a sharp yet affectionate eye for the foibles and absurdities of people from a certain arty, left-wing milieu, but the edge she had in 2 Days in Paris seem to have eroded.