Reprising her role as Marion from 2007’s 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy directs, stars in, writes, edits, and possibly caters this sequel. Marion’s an artist living in New York with her partner Mingus (Chris Rock) and their two children from previous relationships.
Marion’s family, specifically her father Jeannot (played by Delpy’s actual father Albert), her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s uninvited and unwelcome boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) come to visit for what quickly devolves into an endless weekend, made unbearable for Marion thanks to their numerous quirks.
Jeannot, for example, wanders about the big city like a child, keying cars, mistaking a massage for…something else, and getting held up at customs for attempting to smuggle 30 pounds of sausage. Rose cannot open her mouth without making a snide comment to or criticism of her sister, and Manu is simply the kind of person with no qualms about inviting a drug-dealer to Marion’s apartment for a quick score of weed.
Against the screwball antics of her family is the backdrop of Marion’s upcoming art show, where she plans to auction off her soul to the highest bidder. It’s casually referred to throughout the film but drives the final act, and I mention it here mainly because the joke of her soul not fetching much and the person buying it were my favorites.
That’s not to say that the film misfires on its fish-out-of-water theme, mining comedy from Marion’s French family in America and flirting with the dramatic resonance of Marion feeling displaced from life, but despite its overall message as family as a safety net, no matter how much they aggravate you, the thematic punch doesn’t land. The squabbles are ably performed (the cast is wonderful, particularly Albert Delpy, and Rock has a talent for playing straight), but they’re played for a laugh while I think they’re meant to develop the characters.
Both Marion and Mingus offer their thoughts and concerns, but too often it’s with themselves (or even worse, with the audience) instead of each other, and when Marion settles on a resolution, it’s internal when I think it’s meant to be anything but.
There’s a thread in the last act concerning Marion’s belief in the soul. One minute she says it doesn’t exist, the next minute, she’s terrified of losing it; in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Did Delpy forget about it? Is it a meaningful omission? Does it really matter?
2 Days in New York is rated R. Directed by Julie Delpy. Written by Julie Delpy and Alexia Landeau. Starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, and Alexandre Nahon