Editor’s note: With 2 Days in New York opening in limited release this Friday, here is a re-run of our review from Sundance, when it was the only film that could perk an exhausted Kate up on Festival Day 26. This review was originally posted on January 29, 2012.
Picking up a few years where her 2 Days in Paris left off, Julie Delpy‘s 2 Days in New York has moved the sometimes-messy life of Marion (Delpy) to Gotham. Marion has now taken up with Mingus (Chris Rock, playing a pitch-perfect straight man), a former co-worker who offered dry humor and personal understanding when her previous relationship crumbled. The pair live together in a cozy and artistic apartment, joined by Marion’s young son Lulu (Owen Shipman) and Mingus’ daughter Willow (Talen Ruth Riley). As calm and lovely as their life together seems, everything is about to be tested over a brief two-day period, marked by the arrival of Marion’s insane family, the opening of an important gallery exhibition of Marion’s photos, and the unspoken pressure that one of Marion’s other artistic endeavors is putting her under.
Like everyone’s family, Marion’s family (all reprising their roles from Paris) is nuts – her father Jeannot (played by Delpy’s actual father, Albert Delpy) is shiftless in the wake of his wife’s death, her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) is a boundary-less recovering nymphomaniac, and Rose’s boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) orders up marijuana to their apartment in the middle of a family meal.
While all that dysfunction may sound heavy, 2 Days in New York is actually an enormously entertaining and relatable family farce. Highly energetic and often very amusing, Delpy’s latest is a fizzy little outing that will delight audiences seeking classic humor in a modern setting. Packed with constantly evolving relationships, clever little sight gags, and an always-amusing language barrier, the film was an unexpected anecdote to Sundance’s often heavy fare.
While the farcical elements of 2 Days in New York are a delight, Delpy often makes the mistake of shuffling some overly stylistic elements into the narrative that break up the ease of the film. While Marion’s diary-like voiceover narration of the film makes it feel even more accessible and engaging, stuff like quick-cut “history lessons” by way of montage, a scene told entirely in photos, and a wacky dream sequence draw attention away from Delpy’s adeptness at crafting the sort of farce that would make her countrymen proud. However, those bits all away in the second half of the film, and it clips along in an amusing and satisfying way, one of the true gems of Sundance.
The Upside: When the film is playing out like a classic French farce, it’s light and fluffy and incredibly fun. The entire cast has tremendous chemistry and are a joy to watch interact together. Despite how wacky the film might feel at times, it’s quite relatable material for anyone who has a family (read: everyone).
The Downside: Delpy tries to pack in too many stylistic choices that tend to take away from the rest of the film’s particular brand of fizzy entertainment.
On the Side: Non-spoiler alert – there are no Adam Goldberg cameos.