I suppose 2 Days in Paris can be seen as both inspired by and a refutation of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the pair of films Julie Delpy made with director Richard Linklater and co-star Ethan Hawke. Although more realistic than most romantic comedy/dramas in terms of dialog and emotion, it would be fair to say those films buy into cliches of young love and romantic adventures in two renowned “cities of lovers” abroad, Vienna and Paris. Despite that, both are huge personal favorites of mine, and I strongly recommend watching them back to back, especially if you happen to be about the same age as the actors.
As writer and director of 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy portrays a most unromantic view of Paris, as perhaps only a Frenchwoman could. With only a fleeting glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, we mostly spend time in its moldy bohemian apartments, eating its fast food, and as captive audiences to its sleazily racist cab drivers. Not coincidentally, the film’s view of relationships is also bleak; Celine and Jesse (Hawke) experience intense passion and heartbreak over a total of 48 hours together (with a 10 year interruption) in Sunrise/Sunset, but Marion and Jack (Adam Goldberg) suffer the overfamiliarity and jealousy of a years-old relationship in 2 Days in Paris. Along with mere bickering, Marion and Jack fumble unsexily in bed, sneeze in each others faces, and accuse each other of infidelities.
The couple’s disastrous two Parisian days build to a climactic argument that is unfortunately covered over in voiceover. It’s a lovely bit of writing, but it sums things up too well. It’s implied that the couple stays together, but perhaps in 10 years Delpy will make 2 Days in New York, and we can see how Marion and Jack have got on.