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2 Days in New York (Julie Delpy, 2012)

June 3, 2012

Review originally written for Reel Time, now at Sound on Sight

Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in Paris, which documented her character’s struggling relationship with American boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) while visiting her home city of Paris, was a rewarding comedy with pleasing one-note simplicity. Arriving five years later and set four years after, 2 Days in New York operates both as a sequel to that film and as a standalone entity. Disregarding the streamlined focus of the first film, this follow-up takes on an array of often soft targets and disappointingly favours a much broader brand of humour that isn’t nearly as successful.

Delpy’s Marion conceived a son with Jack during the interim, but they have since split up and Marion is now living with Chris Rock’s Mingus, who has a daughter of his own. Marion’s established family from the first film are now travelling across the world to visit her, with her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and now widowed father Jeannot (Albert Delpy) unexpectedly bringing along Marion’s ex and Rose’s current “partner”, creepy Manu (Alexandre Nahon). These characters become caricatures of their Paris incarnations, and the film’s humour is now more akin to the Meet the Parents series than Woody Allen’s relationship comedies, favouring madcap, contrived scenarios typical of middling sitcoms. There are still some laughs to be had, but far too many of the jokes strain credibility and patience.

Chris Rock gives a nicely understated performance as Mingus, especially strong in relation to mostly everyone around him, and there are still a few keenly observed scenes more in line with what made Paris so appealing. Interestingly, while the first film was written entirely by Delpy, this sequel is a collaborative effort with some of her French co-stars. This may well be the explanation for the film’s less fine-tuned voice and scattered feel, which now favours set-pieces and distracting attempts to satirise the New York art world (cameo by a famous enfant terrible as himself included). Additionally awkward is the sequel’s new use of dream sequences, fantastical framing, soliloquies (albeit ones directed to Barack Obama pictures), and notions of generic film whimsy. 2 Days in New York is still a good-natured, fairly amusing affair – and one with impressive fluidity in its bi-lingual delivery – but it is sorely lacking in the same brand of spark that there once was.

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