Julie Delpy completes her metamorphosis into the French Diane Keaton with 2 Days in New York, a broad farce that is a funnier and markedly sillier sequel to her 2 Days in Paris.
Delpy, who gained American fame for her work in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, went to school on those films. They inspired her to write, direct and star in these two 2 Days treatments. Again, we’re treated to a narrow period of time, a relationship to resolve, a lot of funny, sharp banter, and in this case, with a lot of outlandish characters and outrageous situations getting in the way.
Marion (Delpy) has split from her American husband, Jack (played by Adam Goldberg in Paris), taken their son, inexplicably named “Lulu,” and moved to New York. There, the slightly neurotic photographer has taken up with American journalist and talk-show host Mingus (Chris Rock).
Her eccentric father and exhibitionist sister (Albert Delpy and Alexia Landeau, returning from the first film) come to visit just as Marion is preparing for her first big gallery show and Mingus is hoping to land a radio interview with his hero, President Barack Obama.
And the relatives bring along Marion’s flaky ex-beau, Manu, played once again with a manic, maddening cluelessness by Alexandre Nahon. Marion is furious, but she puts on a brave face for Mingus. Not to worry. Manu is just “mildly schizophrenic.” (“What do you mean ‘MILDLY schizophrenic? He only hears NICE voices? He would have killed Ringo, not John?”)
So we jam Marion and Mingus, Marion’s little boy — who only speaks to call Mingus “Fake Daddy” — and Mingus’ little girl, Marion’s sausage-smuggling dad and her hits-on-anything-that-moves sister, and the always inappropriate Manu into one not-big-enough-apartment.
Delpy as director juggles as many plot threads as Marion the character, working in the subject of Marion’s first photo exhibit — intimate shots of her in bed with various lovers, the affairs that didn’t work out — and a gimmick on top of that gimmick. Marion is selling her soul to the highest bidder as an added dose of conceptual art.
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments provided by the cast, the characters and the situations. Delpy’s real-life dad is a stitch; befuddled but witty, and just as crude as every other French character. Delpy riffs with assorted rude New Yorkers and battles, tooth and claw, with her sister. Rock scores a few hits, though some of his improvisations — fanboy chatter with a poster of Obama, his lame radio patter — need work.
2 Days in New York achieves bigger laughs than anything Delpy has ever been in, but the film as a whole is an overreach. Too many people to keep track of and give enough to do, situations that hurtle off a cliff of melodrama as she lies to keep a neighbor from ratting her out to the apartment superintendent.
Still, there’s much here with the sting of recognition about it — boorish relatives, make-it-up-as-you-go living arrangements, pretentious artists and foreigners with cliched ideas about America, New York, etc. That lets these two days skip by in a movie that plays like early Woody Allen, with Delpy as the blonder, French-accented Keaton, this time the center of the action and in charge of the mess she makes around her.
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau.
Writer/director: Julie Delpy.
Producers: Scott Franklin, Ulf Israel, Christophe Mazodier, Jean-Jacques Neira, Hubert Toint.
A Magnolia Pictures release. Running time: 95 minutes. Language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity. In English and French with English subtitles. Opens Friday Aug. 17 in Miami-Dade only: Coral Gables Arts Cinema.