3 Stars Movies

Julie Delpy’s gives an unromantic tour of her city in 2 Days in Paris

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.

Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg in 2 Days in Paris
The tourists went that-a-way

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.

Julie Delpy in 2 Days in Paris
Comment dit-on… action?

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.

2 Stars Movies

Banlieue 13 (District B13)

To the editors of Time that picked District B13 as one of the 10 best films of the year, I can only ask, dude, Que la baise vous pensaient-elles? Yes, granted, it touches on some extremely sensitive and timely issues in a racially and culturally divided Paris, but those moments are bolted-on and heavy-handed, serving as mere filler between admittedly awesome parkour sequences. I had more fun at The Transporter.

5 Stars Movies

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain

AmélieOne of my favorite films of all time. It’s just such a movie, you know? The same is true of virtually all of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films; I have such fond memories of seeing Delicatessen on a crappy 16mm print at college, City of Lost Children at the Cambridge Film Festival, and Amélie and A Very Long Engagement at the Paris Theater in New York City. We won’t mention Alien Resurrection, OK?

Although a big hit in France, my understanding is that there was something of a backlash against it, due in part to its literally candy-colored portrayal of a storybook Montemartre far removed from reality. Also, a reviewer in Sight & Sound (a film journal whose opinion I nearly always respect, if not always agree with) utterly slammed the film, apparently personally offended by the sexual politics. But I find Amélie so delightful, inventive, and so full of feeling that I can confidently state anybody that hates this movie just hates movies, period.