Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and starred in this film. In it, her crazy family visits her for two days, which throws her relationship with Chris Rock into chaos. It is a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, which did very well at the box office; however, it is unlikely this film will do the same for a couple reasons. First, its reviews are good, but not great, and limited releases generally need great reviews to thrive. Second, it already came out on Video on Demand. “2 Days in New York” opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema, both in New York City.
Julie Delpy writer, director and star of this film, in recent years she has earned the admiration and respect of notable directors Jean-Luc Godard, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Richard Linklater, whose Before Sunrise and Before Sunset have likely brought her most of her American fans. But Delpy’s also earned a lot of slashes in her career, adding writing, directing and singing to her credits. In her fourth directorial effort, “2 Days in New York,” Delpy, who also stars and co-wrote the screenplay, provides a different and funny take on relationships, family and even the nature of the soul.
Picking up where “2 Days in Paris” (Delpy’s first directing feature) ends, Marion (Delpy) has left her boyfriend, and the father of her son, and started a new life with Mingus (Chris Rock) and his daughter. Their creative vocations (she’s a visual artist; he’s a Village Voice writer and talk radio host) complement each other yet seem to lampoon their inherent need for normalcy.
This is especially apparent when Marion’s father (played by Delpy’s real father, Albert Delpy), sister (co-writer Alexia Landeau) and ex-fling, Manu (Alex Nahon), arrive from Paris for a short holiday. Mingus isn’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect of his new “in-laws” coming in, especially since he doesn’t know much French and has his own career stresses to deal with.
The visit starts off okay, though the language barrier does present a problem, as Manu doesn’t have the grasp of English he thinks he does, nor much self-control. The cultural barriers are actually the biggest issue for Mingus, as a number of the things that might seem common place for Marion’s family in France just seem a bridge too far for his tastes.
Marion tries her best to manage, while also doing what she can to keep her photography show, which may end her career if it doesn’t go well, from becoming a disaster. Mingus and Marion also have to deal with the stresses of trying to bring together a blended family, and decide if they’re ready to take a step forward as a couple.
Manhattan sightseeing quickly devolves into public catfights, mild racism and the bootlegging of French sausages and cheeses. Mingus’s patience is tested, as is their relationship. He begins to converse with a cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama, and Marion literally sells her soul to the highest bidder at her art exhibit opening.
Although this is Delpy’s tour de force, the breakthrough is Chris Rock. Playing against everything that makes up his archetypal characters of the past, his Mingus is a magically brewed, addictive mixture, served bare like a shot of vodka. The burn is short, but the giddiness lasts for hours. Rock would be wise to entertain a dramatic acting career, as he definitely has the chops, and can take one on the chin.
Marion and Mingus, come off like a real couple, with a real history. And, by taking that more serious turn, Rock’s best lines actually end up delivering more laughs than in a standard comedy of the type he’s starred in the past. And the elder Delpy is a lot of fun, showing both a sweet and caring side and providing reason to find the character exasperating.
Where Delpy may overdo it, however, are the antics of her sister and Manu. It’s one thing to play into stereotype, but Manu essentially becomes the ugly Frenchman upon arrival. While it might be believable that a person might commit a few faux pas out of cultural ignorance in a new country, the number and severity of Manu’s transform the character into a plot device, albeit an occasionally funny one. The character is also disposed with in far too easy and convenient a fashion. Rose, first as Manu’s partner in crime, but also on her own, also becomes a bit much to be believable, particularly in the way she chooses the most inappropriate moments to rehash old grudges with her sister.
Overall Delpy successfully crafts a movie that is both wildly funny and deeply poignant.
“2 Days in New York” seethes with ferocious wit and feral energy, a joyous romp through familial strife sprinkled with a love story. While some of her characters end up going a little too far over the top, her main characters seem to do an amazing job of keeping this movie grounded as Delpy tastefully places a few axiomatic truths about people and their relationships.