2 DAYS IN NEW YORK
Unmarried Manhattan couple Marion (Julie Delpy) the photographer and Mingus (Chris Rock) the radio jock, who each have a young child from prior relationships, find their comfortable family dynamic jostled by a visit from Marion's relatives: her father Jeannot (Albert Delpy), her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and Rose's annoying boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon). To add to the tension, they all arrive on the eve of Marion's one woman exhibition of photographs - where she will also offer to sell her soul.
Review by Louise Keller:
In a misconceived dallying with culture clash, Julie Delpy's exploration in this disappointing follow up to 2 Days in Paris never even gets close to taking off. Equally misconceived is the idea of casting funny man Chris Rock as the straight man to Delpy's vulgar French family, whose antics are not only unbelievable but supremely embarrassing. As Rock confides to his radio DJ microphone, he used to believe the French were elegant, but after being confronted by his girlfriend's offensive father who smells of cheese, her promiscuous knickerless sister and druggie boyfriend, he is at a loss and almost ready to be seduced by a gormless listener with X-rated fantasies.
Dysfunctional families are one thing, but self-indulgent nonsense that feels as though it is a gauche exercise of drama school improvisation and whose brief it is to come up with the most ridiculous of concepts, is quite another. It is especially disappointing as I like Delpy and her body of work - especially Richard Linklater's bookend pieces Before Sunrise and Before Sunset in which she co-starred with Ethan Hawke and on which her '2 Days in..' concept is seemingly based.
It is through finger puppets that Delpy informs us, the audience, that time has marched on since those days in Paris and that she (Marion) is now a single mum in New York, living with single father Mingus (Rock). The name Mingus rhymes with 'cunnilingus', a fact we are told several times by Marion's sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) after she, her boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) arrive through customs with their father Jeannot (Albert Delpy). The scene in which they are held at the airport with the confiscated French cheeses and sausages is admittedly rather funny. But you have to feel for Rock, when this larger-than-life family descends on his apartment, Rose flaunting her naked body and Jeannot seemingly playing a never-ending game of charades.
I liked the idea of Rock talking to his idol Barrack Obama, by way of a life-size cut-out in his study, and the notion of Marion selling her soul to Vincent Gallo for $5,000 at her gallery opening is rather wild. But neither idea is well developed and we are left to groan at scenes like the one in the sauna with gauche double entendres and the all-time zinger in which Marion feigns she has a brain tumour.
Apart from one scene in which Central Park shines with her glorious autumn colours, we see little of New York; most of the time, we are stuck in a charmless apartment surrounded by offensive French loonies making tasteless, racist remarks and offering little by way of laughs or genuine entertainment. It is such a shame, because the potential is thrown away and we are left with a hollow script crammed with would-be cheap laughs and a talented cast that is left floundering.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Julie Delpy showed her filmmaking prowess with the funny, sharply charming and engaging 2 Days in Paris (2007), and while she wanted to ride the same train, so to speak, out of respect, she wanted to avoid making a sequel with the same boyfriend, along the lines of Before / After Sunset made by her friend Richard Linklater in which she stars. But what she has done is worse: she has made a sequel that doesn't work. She is still saying love is a pain in the ass, but she has moved the location to New York, where the central character, Marion (Delpy) now lives with her new boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock) and Marion's young son from the previous guy, played by Adam Goldberg, and Mingus' little daughter.
Delpy's dad Albert turns up again as Jeannot (now a widower) and overdoes the clowning that was so much more fun and more credible the first time. Indeed, it's the lack of any credibility that mars this film, even though it is played as naturally as an improvised work, all blotchy phrasing and interrupted lines.
There is latent promise in almost every scene, and the concept is well developed. But it's all rather rushed and perfunctory, never allowing the audience to invest in any of the characters.
It's Chris Rock who comes out of it best, perhaps surprisingly, playing Mingus as a bemused and sometimes bewildered onlooker as Marion's crazed family disrupts his life. Rose is not beyond starting a loud public slanging match with her sister, or walking around with her bum showing when neighbours call, and dad is not beyond making a spectacle of himself.
The other outstanding performance is that of co-writer Alexia Landeau as Rose, a complex and vibrant character with nothing predictable about her.
But while all this madcap fun has potential to provide some insight and grounded comedy, it seems shallow, pretentious or desperate. Why else write a silly subplot about Marion selling her soul at her exhibition and build a scene with the buyer that does nothing to dispel our feeling that the idea is unworthy of Delpy.
Lacking the bite and originality of the Paris film, 2 Days in New York is a meandering, spineless set of comedic (sometimes not so comedic) sketches. Much is made of things like the name Mingus rhyming with cunnilingus, part of the general tone of candid sexual referencing that jars - not because it's shocking but because it is pointless.
The cinematic move out of Paris seems to be cursed: Woody Allen had similar problems trying to replicate the success of Midnight in Paris when he concocted To Rome with Love.
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2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (MA15+)
CAST: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Dylan Baker, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Kate Burton, Daniel Bruhl, Talen Riley, Dylan Baker
PRODUCER: Scott Franklin, Ulf Israel, Christoph Mazodier, Jean-Jacques Neira
DIRECTOR: Julie Delpy
SCRIPT: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lubomir Bakchev
EDITOR: Julie Brenta, Isabelle Devinck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Judy Rhee
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 22, 2012
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.