2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy, 2007)
When Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke reunited, although belatedly, in a little book shop in Paris, it felt just perfect. Paris seems to be that essential romantic rendezvous, especially with its gorgeous architecture, that distinct air of all the many lovers that have fallen in love with each other, the lights, the permanent structures of history. Delpy's 2 Days in Paris felt like it choked on the extravagant amore France's capital city has been delegated with; and regurgitated a romantic nightmare that would test the less-than-perfect bonds of a two-year relationship, instead of the predictable nightcap to a couple's European vacation.
Delpy has a crazy sense of humor. After delighting the world with the possibilities of perfect romantic endings in this schizophrenic modern age (in Richard Linklater's beautiful Before Sunset (2004)), she comes up with this film, the perfect antithesis to everything Linklater's film represented. The characters are similar --- a couple in their mid-thirties (American and French) testing the dynamics of a relationship (although here, they've been together for two years unlike the years of absence between Linklater's Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset).
The similarities end there, Delpy's Marion is a perfect eyesight-deprived nymphomaniac (she collects polaroid pictures of all her boyfriends naked with helium balloons tied to their penises) and her partner Jack (Adam Goldberg, who has none of Hawke's physical charm) is the typical Manhattan native (as exemplified by the quintessential Woody Allen character --- hypochondriac, witty, and confused).
Paris is no longer the city forever draped with that romantic golden sunlight; instead it felt like the messy bedroom you are so embarrassed to exhibit to your friends since it has all the pieces of evidence of your shady past and other secrets. The cab drivers are either too generous to donate their sperm to impregnate you, or are neo-Nazis on a perpetual diatribe against the abundance of Arabs in the lovely streets of their beloved city. Each corner of the city has a memory or dirt attached to it --- either a past boyfriend or a current fuckbuddy, a father's mission to rid the city of sidewalk parkers or a mother's tale of sexual relations with the late Jim Morrison, an art gallery of art about sex or a guardian angel-like British fairy on a mission to rid the world of GMO's and fast food joints.
2 Days in Paris is crude in a way that Linklater's ode to Paris is elegant (with all its random conversations captured in gorgeous long takes). The beautiful thing about Delpy's filmmaking is that it's so raw and un-manufactured (Delpy directs, stars, edits, and composes the music for this film; according to one interview, she's also an errand girl) that its un-elegant turnaround (wherein narration accompanies the visuals; I would've appreciated if Delpy made the film sans the lengthy narrated expositions as the narrations felt like rationalizations or justifications of Marion's quirky characteristics) in the end is quite miraculous that it worked magically despite feeling rather rushed and tacked on.