Review: 2 Days in New York (2012)

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Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy
Director: Julie Delpy
Country: Germany | France | Belgium
Genre: Comedy
Official Trailer: Here


Editor’s Note: 2 Days in New York opens in North American theatres on August 10th

It’s interesting, given the announcement of Richard Linklater’s much anticipated Before Sunset sequel just recently, that both of its stars should currently find themselves in films so clearly comparable to the Before duology. While Hawke flexes his brooding dramatic muscles traipsing about the Parisian back alleys in Pawel Pawlikowski’s The Woman in the Fifth, Delpy can be found relocating the Francophone comedy of her self-penned and directed 2 Days in Paris to the streets of New York. Following Marion some four years down the line, 2 Days in New York finds her living with new boyfriend Mingus as her now widowed father and infamously salacious sister come to visit.

Delpy’s satisfaction with the end result of Paris is extremely evident, so much so that she neglects to amend the structure of that film in the slightest in remaking it as New York.

Where The Woman in the Fifth might invite comparison to Linklater’s films with Hawke and Delpy in setting only, there’s no question that the 2 Days films owe a considerable debt to the template set out by Before Sunrise all the way back in 1995. There was a film that drew you in with the richness of its characters and the simple growth of the relationship between them; that showed you two people as alien to each other as they were to you and had you fall in love with them at the very same rate as they themselves. Delpy’s prior excursion with Marion, while lacking the same audience-inclusive structure, did construct a relationship of believable emotion; in fact its beginning two years into the relationship facilitated the exploration of the kind of later cynicism—even mild disdain—relationships tend to devolve into.

With 2 Days in New York, gone is the character of Jack, his and Marion’s relationship having come to an amiable end—though not before her impregnation. Now raising her 3-year old son together with Mingus and his daughter from one of his two previous marriages, she has found success as a Village Voice photographer soon to host an exhibition in which the defining “piece” will be the sale of her soul to the highest bidder. Delpy’s satisfaction with the end result of Paris is extremely evident, so much so that she neglects to amend the structure of that film in the slightest in remaking it as New York. Chris Rock is surprisingly adept in his reactionary role as the straight man confronted with a nightmarish culture clash, but then so too was Adam Goldberg before him. The film’s comic antics come courtesy, once again, of the inappropriate interactions of Marion’s family with the wider world, this time comprising everything from a marijuana purchase in front of the children to a failed effort to sneak thirty French sausages through US border customs.

Delpy gravitates from sexually-charged visual gags to subtler dialogical exchanges with varying degrees of success. While there is a definite comic charm to her characters’ voices, as many gags fall flat as soar, the script all too often opting for the easy racial or cultural joke in lieu of something smarter or more inspired.

Much like its predecessor, 2 Days in New York suffers from a certain inability to tame the broad comedic leanings of its helmer. Delpy gravitates from sexually-charged visual gags to subtler dialogical exchanges with varying degrees of success. While there is a definite comic charm to her characters’ voices, as many gags fall flat as soar, the script all too often opting for the easy racial or cultural joke in lieu of something smarter or more inspired. It does, though, raise enough chuckles to make the viewing experience a predominantly pleasant one, even if it is harmed by a hammy post-scriptum attempt at dramatic fabrication. Mingus and Marion’s relationship carries all the points of identification and emotional engagement the story needs, yet Delpy seems determined to strive for greater poignancy in her soul-sale subplot. It’s an irritatingly quirky idea that leads only to a messy cameo scene and a string of sex jokes that undermine any seriousness theretofore built, substituting the profundity it desperately desires for a cheap—and not all that funny—laugh.

2 Days in New York might have found an appreciative audience in those who swooned in delight at its predecessor, but even its most fervent fans will be disappointed at Delpy’s lack of imagination in retaining precisely the same narrative structure. Far less dramatically satisfying, and suffering in comedic terms from the law of diminishing returns, it’s unlikely to be seen as an improvement over what came before. Rock and Delpy do make a convincing central couple, even if their relationship follows almost exactly that of she and Jack in the last film. While the strength of that central dynamic might make amends for an unimpressive mildness to the comic efforts, New York is simply too similar to these characters’ previous outing to make it anything more than a tired rehashing of old jokes and familial antics. Oh well, at least we’ll always have Paris.

[notification type=”star”]54/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. 2 Days in New York might have found an appreciative audience in those who swooned in delight at its predecessor, but even its most fervent fans will be disappointed at Delpy’s lack of imagination in retaining precisely the same narrative structure.[/notification]

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About Author

Ronan Doyle is an Irish freelance film critic, whose work has appeared on Indiewire, FilmLinc, Film Ireland, FRED Film Radio, and otherwhere. He recently contributed a chapter on Arab cinema to the book Celluloid Ceiling, and is currently entangled in an all-encompassing volume on the work of Woody Allen. When not watching movies, reading about movies, writing about movies, or thinking about movies, he can be found talking about movies on Twitter. He is fuelled by tea and has heard of sleep, but finds the idea frightfully silly.