Seen on the Seine
2 DAYS IN PARIS Directed by Julie Delpy. Starring Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Daniel Brühl, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy, Aleksia Landeau 15A cert, Queen’s, Belfast; Cineworld/IFI, Dublin, 96 min
HOWEVER much you like Julie Delpy’s debut as a director, you would have to admit that it is a jalopy entirely composed of second-hand parts.
Delpy and Adam Goldberg star as a young couple – he could not be more of a New Yorker; she has Paris tattooed on her spleen – returning to the French capital for a weekend of smoking, shrugging and shagging. Every move Goldberg makes has been made a thousand times over by Woody Allen.
Following Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, this is the second time Delpy has chattered her way about Paris in the last three years. Even poor old Jean-Luc, a fat cat with a photogenic demeanour, appears to have been named for one of Julie’s influences.
More damagingly, the picture does deal in some very broad comedy. If a director from any other country had portrayed the French as goose-torturing, Sartre-spouting, sex-obsessed boors, the race-relations police might have seized all the prints. If an actor with a name less obviously Semitic in origin than Goldberg had made his character quite so much of a nervous schmuck, he may have received death threats. And let’s not start on the Americans who choose to visit Paris in Bush/Cheney T-shirts.
Never mind. Though short on subtlety, 2 Days in Paris remains an agreeably diverting comedy throughout. The film’s leisurely pace is augmented by a sometimes quite savage evisceration of French social atrocities, but Delpy – writer, director, composer and daughter of two co-stars – always allows us the option of siding with the liberal Europeans against the uptight American.
Refreshingly for a work by a first-timer, the picture is gleefully, purposefully ambiguous in its attitude towards the cultural clash at its heart. It is both anti-American and antiFrench. It offers celebrations of Gallic sophistication and New York Jewish wit. (Though the Parisian habit, noted here, of closing museums apparently at random deserves nothing else but righteous fury.)
You need only note the strange transAtlantic burr that now characterises Delpy’s speech to appreciate her own divided loyalties. Her amusing, flawed expression of that rift shows real potential. Enjoy this qualified Bravo, Mademoiselle.
A sigh in the city of lights: Delpy, Goldberg