As any Mark would verify, there’s been a decided lack of quality romantic comedies in recent years. I was the only person in the stratosphere to like Imagine Me & You, even the ever likeable Will Smith couldn’t save Hitch, and apparently 27 Dresses wasn’t too crash hot. There was Me and You and Everyone We Know, but that was more of an ensemble piece that a traditional romcom.
2 Days in Paris is almost entirely Julie Delpy’s creation. She wrote, starred in, edited, scored and directed the film, and it’s the only ray of sunshine in what has been a bleakly unromantic few years. One’s first reaction is to think of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, the two films she did with Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater, and on the surface it does have a lot in common. It is essentially about two people walking around Paris talking, though the tone and setup is quite different. Marion and Jack have been together for two years and have stopped off at her Parisian apartment before returning home.
The couple are instantly likeable despite their flaws. Marion has terrible eyesight, is spontaneous and prone to outbursts, and Delpy goes out of her way to make her as unglamorous as possible. Jack (Adam Goldberg) is an insecure hypochondriac who feels incredibly uncomfortable in a country where everyone speaks a language other than English. Their arguments are frequent, but always entertaining and often hilarious, and this may be part of the film’s problem. Delpy and Goldberg have a wonderful chemistry together, perfectly believable – so much so that I was never really concerned about their future. It feels like something really, really big would have to come between them for their relationship to crumble, and the film fails to come up with anything special to cause the type of third quarter rift that we all expect in romcoms.
The supporting cast are great, despite the fact that they push certain stereotypes. It may be actually true that many French are racist and sex-obsessed, but it seems a little too convenient. Some of the dramatic triggers for our leads are also a little too trite. Marion and Jack do share the blame for any problems that arise, however, and this is one of the film’s strong points.
Marion’s voiceover is a mixed blessing. It’s refreshing and candid but at the same time awkward, and at one point feels like it’s there only to bridge the gaps in the script. This is the type of film I would like to see more of. It’s honest and oh so human and touching, but fails to be truly great in a way that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or High Fidelity are.Rating: