Not quite sure why I was persuaded to click the “Add to Queue” button for 2 Days in Paris. Maybe it was the typical romantic comedy image on the box? Perhaps at the time I saw Julie Delpy’s name and remembered how much I enjoyed the two other films I’ve seen her in – Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Whatever the motive, it showed up on Wednesday in my mailbox.
Sunday is always a good day for a romantic comedy for me, and so I popped it in. The first thing I saw was the ‘Red Envelope Productions’ logo – a sign that the film is probably lower budget than normal, as this is the Netflix film production company. So far I’ve seen two or three of their films and each one has been a bit informative, but lackluster and often times a bit too politically slanted. It took some motivation, but I stuck it out. And in the end, I’m somewhat happy that I did.
2 Days in Paris stars Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg as a couple who, having just left from Italy, are going to spend a few days – you guessed it – in Paris. Adam plays Jack, who is not only the typical American, but the typical “new yorker” in Paris. He’s a rather annoyed guy. The type to tell the movie theater attendant that it’s a bit too chilly in the theater. This doesn’t help his plight much, as Julie Delpy plays “Marion” – his girlfriend for two years in New York who, as he begins to discover watching her in her natural habitat of Paris, might not be as faithful as he first believed.
This movie annoyed me a bit at first. For one, it plays into all of the stereotypes about “Americans in Paris”. We’re always bothered by their carefree lifestyles. Stuck up and too uptight. As we watch the plot develop, at first Jack seems a bit insecure. However, (being a bit insecure myself), watching the story play out and watching as Marion has random French conversations with acquaintances, you begin to get the sense that Jack may be on to something.
Even at only an hour and a half, the film seems to drag a bit. It’s somewhat depressing to see that this couple doesn’t seem to have the chemistry that they think they do. You keep watching through peered eyes for the train wreck to happen.
As a brief aside, Julie Delpy – the lead actor as well as the writer/director – bears mentioning. Her IMDB.com profile shows that she has been in a number of films, but clearly the Before Sunrise/Sunset movies are what she’s most known for. In fact, considering the plot, I wondered if this might have been a sequel to the first two films before I watched for a few minutes and clearly realized that it’s not. She’s a beautiful woman. The camera really does love her. And what’s better is that she’s not an “empty beautiful” – pretty and not much else there. She’s intelligent. She’s passionate. But here’s the rub. Her characters are a bit too passionate, perhaps. While her ability to intellectualize and carry a conversation past the superfluous is attractive, you get the sense that she’s a bit of a handful in a relationship. Strangely my suspicion extends beyond the celluloid, as (and this is completely unfair, but…) looking at her IMDB profile, I see that she has had relationships, but isn’t married. Completely her choice and nothing to judge her by, but you do get the feeling that you know why. And since this film is under her direction, one can draw the conclusion that she isn’t really able to effectively direct her own performance, so perhaps this is Julie that we’re seeing? But, I digress…
As mentioned, the film feels as if it’s dragging. You see this couple in only two days and the prediction of doom from even the most optimistic of folks isn’t far away. But then, something wonderful happens.
Like in Before Sunset, the film waits until the very last ten minutes to tell you why you’ve been watching for the past hour plus. In Before Sunset, it was so that you could hear the beautiful song, “A Waltz For a Night”, so that you could realize that all of her coy acting throughout the day were an act and ironically her true feelings could be heard in her lyrics. In much the same way, as 2 Days ends, (OKAY – there’s no way to finish this without spoiling the ending, so here’s you’re warning. It isn’t like spoiling the end of the Sixth Sense but the film is somewhat more enjoyable if you DONT KNOW WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY…), you get the sense that this is just going to end in misery. But through Marion’s voice-over (which is so much more truthful than hearing the actual discussion/argument could have ever been. You find out the truth. You find out there’s fear in committing. You discover that there’s fear of loneliness. You hear two people who have spend two years together admit the most frightening and tragically sad truth – that they really don’t know each other. In a way much more beautiful than I could ever capture here, Marion says that you reach a point in life where you can’t deal with another break-up. Where you decide that you’re going to try to do the hard thing and get to work through things with a person, despite their faults (and yours).
For awhile there, I was losing interest. The film didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. But then it just beautifully captured the truth of any relationship in that ending. I felt as if I was watching a “foreign film” throughout most of the movie, as I was as foreign to the culture and language as Jack was. But the wonderful thing that this film leaves you with is like another wonderful sentiment from another romantic comedy, Next Stop Wonderland, left me with, (and I’m paraphrasing): The real mystery is not that people meet. The real mystery is what keeps people together after they meet.
2 Days in Paris won’t give you the kind of pick-me-up that a typical romantic comedy (see My Best Friend’s Wedding, Serendipity) does, but if you’re at the point where you want a romantic view into a situation that isn’t your typical Hollywood ending, this isn’t a bad choice. Romantic comedy fans: check it out.