Two Days in Paris

French-American Culture Clash

July 24, 2007By Heidi EllisonFilm
Two Days in Paris, Julie Delpy
An ex-boyfriend shows Marion (Julie Delpy) his three-dimensional portrait of her.

Not only does actress Julie Delpy act in Two Days in Paris, but she also wrote, directed and edited her second feature film, and composed the music. The result is surprising success: a smart, witty Woody-Allen-style comedy with the human warmth of Annie Hall and a bit of the frenetic paranoia of Martin Scorcese’s After Hours.

The story is simple. Marion (Delpy), who is French, and her American boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) are a 35-year-old couple in love. On their way back home to New York from a holiday in Venice, they stop off in Paris for two days to visit Marion’s family. Jack soon discovers that her parents (played by Delpy’s real mother and father, actors Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy), veterans of the 1968 political movement and former swingers (she is supposed to have had a fling with Jim Morrison back in the day), and her sister Rose (Aleksia Landeau) are a bunch of nuts.

Jack, who doesn’t speak French, makes a halfhearted attempt to connect with them, but things start falling apart when Marion’s former lovers begin to pop up one after another and reveal details about her past. The visit also brings out Marion’s volatile Latin temperament, and Jack watches in dismay as she argues publicly with various people they run into. The revelations of the two-day stay in Paris look set to destroy their relationship.

Two Days in Paris is full of clichés about the French and Americans, but they are very effectively played for laughs, and no one laughed harder than the French members of the audiences at the stereotypes about themselves. Most of the French characters in the film are depicted as obsessed with sex and food, and Parisian taxi drivers are by turns racist, sexist, psychopaths or pick-up artists (one even offers to give Delpy a child while she’s riding in the back seat with her uncomprehending but suspicious boyfriend). American tourists are fat, wear Bush-Cheney T-shirts and travel in packs as they try to crack the DaVinci Code. The American boyfriend is a neurotic, hypochondriacal New Yorker, very much in the Woody Allen mode, but Delpy breaks the stereotypes by making this hirsute, tattooed character an interior designer, which seems rather unlikely.

She also captures many telling details about each culture and films Paris as it really looks to people who live here. Stylistically, the film also works well, moving along at a fast clip, with clever narration from Delpy encapsulating the back story Amélie-style, with a quick succession of images.

Bravo to Delpy. I’ll look forward to her next directing effort.

Kathy Schobel writes: “I saw this film in the US earlier this year. This review depicts the film well. Julie Delpy is great. Just watch her credits at the end. I think she produced, wrote, directed, starred, composed and sang songs in the film and at the end. Plus the art in her film father’s gallery is actually some of his art. This film is fun on many levels.”


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