Hollywood hues
A slice of Europe

Julie Delpyís 2 Days in Paris is a rollicking comedy that brings out the contrast
in American and French cultures,
writes Ervell E. Menezes

Hollywood has been glorifying Paris over the years and imbuing it with the romance that has been associated with it, whether it was the Vincente Minnelliís musical An American in Paris or the Elizabeth Taylorís romance The Last Time I Saw Paris, both in the early 1950s and even after that. But this Franco-German film 2 Days in Paris by Julie Delpy is a tad different. It is a rollicking comedy that brings out the contrast in American and French cultures and director Delpy seems to specialise in the Parisian ambience like Paul Mazursky and Martin Scorsese did with New York in the 1970s. Her earlier film was Before Sunrise, Before Sunset. In 2 Days in Paris she sort of picks up from where she left off in the earlier film.

Jack (Adam Goldberg) is American, an interior designer and Marion (July Delpy), is a French professional photographer who have met in New York and are now visiting Europe in a sort of honeymoon after living together for two years, something days. "Itís really too much," says Marion and those words prove prophetic when they decide to visit her home in Paris.

Surprise! surprise! It doesnít take time for the cultures to clash. In Paris language is always a problem and Jack has a hard time trying to follow her conversation with cabbies or locals. When he gets home it gets even worse, her dad (Albert Delpy) is a nutty gallery owner who scratches cars parked on the sidewalk with his key and her mom (Marie Pullet) was a womenís libber ("I was one of the 343 bitches in the feministsí parade," she says) and who even had an affair with singer Jim Morrison. Then there is her younger sister Rose (Alexie Landeau) to add to the variety. So, it is an odd assortment of idiosyncratic characters and writer Delpy has enough scope to cash in on the varied situations. When Marion runs into author Mathew (Adon Jodorovsky), Jack smells an earlier romance and later questions her about it. "Youíre not friends with your exs," she asks him to which he counters "No, I never see them again." She, in turn, quips "thatís what we do in France, we get along with our exs."

But in two days it seems that quite a few Parisian men have been with Marion and things begin to take a turn for the worse. The "phrase book" gives him a pretty bleak picture. That is apart from the judicious use of the voice-over and fights with racist cabbies, who mistake Jack for an Arab. Jack also has a phobia for terrorists and has the displeasure of running into one of them who also happens to be gay.

Cinematographer Lubomir Binchev captures the ambience of Paris to a nicety with frequent panning on the river Siene and the story gets along to a heady start. All is well till the last quarter when the couple is pulling apart. Then, without much conviction director Delpy pulls out a convenient climax, as though she has suddenly run out of ideas or raw stock. Or both.

Julie Delpy is effusive, even ebullient and is able to display a whole gamut of emotions while Adam Goldberg is a good study in contrast as the glib but perplexed New Yorker. Albert Delpy, Julieís dad in real life, is a real scream and Marie Pullet more than adequate as the whimsical mother. There are also good cameos by Alexie Landeau and Adon Jodorovsky. Despite the letdown in the end, 2 Days in Paris is worth seeing for that special European flavour.