2 1/2 stars out of four
French actress Julie Delpy makes her writing and directing (and editing, still photography, composing and singing) debut with "2 Days in Paris."
Her micro-management approach ultimately strains what would have otherwise been an impressive first effort. Although the movie feels more like Woody Allen than Richard Linklater, there will be inevitable comparisons to Linklater's "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset." Delpy starred in both and co-wrote one of the movies, in which she played a French woman romancing an American man (Ethan Hawke).
Where Linklater's movie's were long on style and steeped in atmosphere, Delpy's is crammed with rapid-fire dialogue, Quentin Tarantino-flavored cultural observations and "misunderstanding-between-the-sexes" romantic comedy devices.
When it clicks - which is a little more than half the time - it's a scream. Delpy ditches her shrinking violet "Before" persona in favor of a complicated, multi-faceted, liberated woman who is at once enormously alluring and mildly repellent.
Her Marion has a checkered past, the details of which are wisely spread out throughout the entire length of the film. She's not in any way ashamed of herself, but realizes her current beau (Adam Goldberg as Jack) might not share her freewheeling perspective - or self-cleansing rationale.
Jack offsets his bad-boy look - beard, biceps, tattoos and overflowing sarcasm - with an insecure, paranoid, hypochondriac, Woody Allen id. He keeps his cool even when other men might throw up their arms, blow their stacks and head for the exit. Does Jack really love Marion, or is he just very patient and understanding? We're never quite sure, and neither is Delpy the screenwriter and editor.
Delpy is simply trying to put too much into too small a space. While clocking in at the ideal romantic-comedy length, about 95 minutes, the movie feels rushed. Marion's parents (played by Delpy's real-life mother and father) are engaging, but add nothing to the plot. With a single exception, Marion's many ex-boyfriends are given little to do and are generically interchangeable.
The movie is far from a bust, but it is a prime example of an over-eager first director pinching too much from their own acting resume and not being judicious enough on the page or in the editing room. (Samuel Goldwyn)
Presented in English and French with English subtitles.
Opens exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta. Call 678-495-1424 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com.