2 days in Paris

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So are french fries in fact Belgian? If they are, what is Belgium’s stance regarding Iraq? And does “french” mean to chop and slice in a certain way instead of the obvious place of origin? If so, how are freedom fries supposed to be sliced? A cultural mixup is on the rise and getting confused is the first step to appreciate the need to understand and try harder towards that direction. Julie Delpy has one foot in France and the other in the US. Since she’s a movie maker what else could her movie be about?

Marion (Delpy) is a french photographer living in New York. Jack (Adam Goldberg) is an interior designer from NY. They have some trouble as a couple so they take a trip to Europe to pump up the romance. In Venice they both get sick. In Marion’s native place, Paris, they hope to find what they were looking for. Instead, Jack gets a huge cultural shock though not as huge as Marion’s who sees things a little differently as an outsider now. On top of that their relationship goes to pieces and they both find themselves alone in Paris. How’s that gonna work out?

For Julie Delpy, the star, director, screenwriter, producer, composer and editor of this movie, it works out fine. She never loses control of her creation, every shot, every line and every cut seems in place. It’s more than obvious that Linklater’s movies are an influence here as much as her french cinematic heritage. “Does this look like Goddard?” asks Jack as he prepares for an evening at an art gallery. He wears his old school shades, goes out, walks towards the camera inside a headshot and snip!… the obvious jump-cut. Though the references have nothing to do with the film’s own value they add to it’s playfullness.

Script is extremely well written and the dialogues never ring false, in english or in french, reflecting one essential cultural difference that is the “sense of humor”. The french bitterness and weirdness against the american sarcasm and self-derogating irony. Delpy shows great knowledge of both and is able to inscribe them in the same context, eventually getting the laughs or at least the crooked smile.

One great asset for her writing though is brilliantly casted Adam Goldberg. He has a very comedic face and presence and he personifies a man out of his environment, a hypochondriac who as Marion points out, prefers to get out of the heart of the action and be an observer, a guy who simply takes pictures instead of living them. Delpy’s real life parents,who are in fact actors- appear in their respective roles and add a lot to the comedy, along with an off-beat appearance by german actor Daniel Bruhl as the deus-ex-macina.

Delpy’s criticism goes a lot of ways, towards the introverted nature of both cultures, american and french. The stereotypes that prevent them from understanding each other, the outdated liberality and the superficiality of the supposedly higher culture between the two. Meanwhile, the american’s constant sense of danger reveals his own cultural isolation. This clash produces funny and akward moments but most of all a tension between two lovers that can’t relate to whatever they got any more. If they overcome then we shall too.

Grade: A

The Upside: It’s more fun than it looks.

The Downside: I expected more nudity from a Paris flick.

On the Side: Goldberg and Delpy used to have a real life relationship.