August 16, 2012
Julie Delpy can do just about anything as an actress, and as a writer and director, she likes "everything" too — stories roomy enough for a torrent of feelings and mood swings, and ensemble casts up to the challenge.
A follow-up to her "2 Days in Paris," which came out five years ago, Delpy's "2 Days in New York" brings her Franco-American culture clashes from France to the U.S., with Delpy again playing Marion, the photographer of considerable soul and considerable, self-generating Sturm and considerable Drang to go with the Sturm.
Marion lives with her boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock), a Village Voice columnist and a talk-radio personality, along with their children from prior relationships. Seen in "2 Days in Paris," Delpy's real-life father Albert Delpy (a relentless hambone) repeats his role here as Marion's joyously crass dad, visiting Marion and Mingus in New York along with Marion's sister (Alexia Landeau, another repeater) and the sister's boyfriend (Alex Nahon, another).
The indignities pile up high and early for Mingus. Rock's role in "2 Days in New York" is that of slow burner, increasingly aghast at the craziness inherent in his girlfriend's extended family. Rock and Delpy enjoy each other's on-screen company. By instinct, though, in her role as director, Delpy keeps every scene moving at Marion's borderline-manic clip. Rock's hang-back approach works, but if there's a larger dimension missing from this determinedly modest picture, it's the push-and-pull of a truly lived-in relationship, where we see what brought these two together and how they're tested (beyond surface comic ways) by an onslaught of carelessly sensual Parisians on the loose.
The comedy works some of the time; the pathos, more so. There's an undertow of grief in "2 Days in New York" relating to the passing of Marion's (and Delpy's) mother, who died in 2009. As an actress, Delpy knows precisely what to do with this material and the transition into deeper feeling. As a co-writer, along with Nahon, she tends to overplay the broad comedy. But there are some lovely lyric interludes showing the streets and blur and timeless allure of Manhattan, where compression and chaos are facts of life.
MPAA rating: R (for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity)
Running time: 1:31
Opens: Friday. Also available via video on demand.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC