After the sunset

Directorial debut shows love’s denoument

“This film isn’t really a romantic comedy,” insists Julie Delpy at a press junket about her directorial debut. And at the beginning of 2 Days in Paris, you believe her. Following Delpy and Adam Goldberg around Paris, the film appears, at first, like a personal account of a relationship collapsing in its sunset. As a writer and director, though, Delpy is unable to avoid the usual tropes of the romantic comedy. What should have been intimate becomes an all-too-familiar movie that would rather be pleasant than charming or brilliant.
    In an attempt to invigorate their relationship with a vacation in Europe, French photographer Marion (Delpy) brings her American boyfriend Jack (Goldberg) to Paris to meet her parents. A caustic and neurotic New York interior designer, Jack isn’t as nervous about meeting the parents as he is about adjusting to Paris life and the life Marion left behind. Jack meets a parade of ex-boyfriends and rude taxi drivers, as Marion tries to remember why she’s with Jack in the first place.
    Passive-aggressive hostility forms the foundation of Marion and Jack’s relationship. Spite is foreplay for them, as they try to smile through grimaces and spend most of their time in petty arguments. Though initially funny, the gawky silences between the zingers eventually become wearisome. At a time when American comedy is built on awkward pauses and uncomfortable silences, you wish Delpy would do something interesting with them. Though funny at times, this isn’t a movie of big laughs and pratfalls, mostly because of the intimate camera work. The handheld cinematography brings a documentary feel, which offers more heft to the narrative than what’s really there — scenes exploring how Marion got into photography benefit, but, overall, Delpy seem to hide behind the style to cover up the romantic comedy machinations. As the film stumbles into those all-too-familiar patterns, Delpy pulls back on the venom and hostility a little too late. Moments of genuine affection between the two would have injected some sincerity.
    Love conquers all. It’s the inevitable conclusion of all romantic comedies; otherwise, they wouldn’t be romantic comedies. You just wish Delpy stayed true to her word.

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