If you took Annie Hall and Meet the Parents, threw both films -- as well as a Paris backdrop -- into a blender, out would pop 2 Days in Paris (or Deux jours à Paris) -- a charming, hysterical and sometimes gut-wrenching new film from writer-director-actress Julie Delpy. Pic, which is celebrating its World Premiere here in the Berlin fest's Panorama section, follows one couple's desperate attempt to remain calm and committed to one another while enjoying a two-day holiday in Paris, France.
The film's stuck-in-the-moment quirkiness is not all that unfamiliar to Delpy, as images of her co-starring role opposite Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset certainly dance in our minds throughout. But, instead of Hawke's dry, boring "someone slap some energy into this guy" persona, we get Adam Goldberg in all his neurotic glory. To say the film will simply put a smile on your face is a huge understatement -- if you're not wiping off tears of laughter and heartache by the time the end credits roll ... well, then you're simply not human.
When we first meet Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Goldberg), they're passed out on a train heading away from Venice, Italy and toward Paris, France. He, with iPod headphones firmly wedged in both ears and, she, wearing a t-shirt with a gun printed on its front. A gun, mind you, that's pointed directly at her sleeping boyfriend. Ah, foreshadowing at its best. A Delpy voiceover tells us the two had spent the past two weeks traipsing around Venice, and are now heading to Paris (where Marion's parents live) to pick up the cat they dropped off prior to their Italian voyage. Marion, who grew up in Paris, was now living in New York with Jack; they've been dating for two years.
Right off the bat, it's obvious these two have issues: Jack is constantly on the verge of coming down with either a sinus infection or food poisoning, deathly afraid to travel Paris by train or bus for fear a terrorist attack might take place and, to top it all off, speaks not a lick of French, except for your basic greetings. Marion, on the other hand, suffers from a bizarre retina illness which has her seeing black spots out of both eyes, is one argument away from being ordered by a court to attend anger management classes and can't seem to walk a block without running into an ex-boyfriend.
Upon settling down in Marion's tiny rented apartment upstairs from her parents' place, the two are thrown into a series of unfortunate entanglements. There's the uncomfortable lunch with Marion's perverted father and overly dramatic mother, a romantic stroll turns into an unavoidable confrontation with one of Marion's passionate ex-lovers and a night out with friends slowly spirals out of control when Jack's jealous side finally gets the best of him.
With 2 Days in Paris, Delpy attempts to uncover all the different ways in which we communicate with one another, and how, if not careful, communication (or the lack thereof) can ruin a perfectly good romance. What Marion and Jack fail to realize is that they're not on the verge of breaking up, they're on the verge of breaking in -- knocking down those final few emotional barriers so that construction can begin on the rest of their life together. Delpy, who also wears writing and directing hats on the film, never tries to get too fancy with style. With the exception of a few maniacal montage sequences and brief snippets of animation, Delpy comfortably places the camera in front of herself and Goldberg, then just lets things roll. Heck, with dialogue and chemistry this sharp, there's never a need for unnecessary window dressing -- not when your two lead actors make looking good, well, look that easy.