Wednesday, 21 November 2012
FILM REVIEW: 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK
Hosting a family visit during Halloween should have been the first sign that events could potentially go to hell. And so they do in Julie Delpy's 2 Days In New York, a sequel-of-sorts to her similarly titled 2007 film set in Paris, where family relationships wreak havoc on romantic and domestic ones.
Marion (Delpy) and her partner, Mingus (Chris Rock), live a somewhat idyllic lifestyle in New York: she's an artist, he's an announcer on public radio, and they live in a Manhattan apartment with her son, Lulu, and his daughter, Willow, each from previous relationships. But into this domestic bliss comes Marion's father, Jeannot (Albert Delpy, Julie's actual father), sister Rose (Alexia Landau) and, unexpectedly, Rose's boyfriend, Manu (Alexandre Nahon), who just happens to be an ex of Marion's.
The visitors plan to stay only two days but if a week is a long time in politics, 48 hours can be an eternity when every waking moment is spent with relatives. Doubly so if they're not yours.
Mingus has a hard time adjusting to Marion's sister's lack of inhibition - she likes to wear as little as possible when she's not walking around the apartment naked - not to mention the sisters' sibling rivalry, which breaks out at the most inopportune times; Manu's calling up a pot dealer who makes house calls; and Jeannot's general all around French-ness. No wonder Mingus retreats to his study and conducts one-way conversations with his life-sized President Obama cut-out. Rock, a rare big screen presence save for the Madagascar films, is the film's MVP.
Meanwhile, Marion is about to open her latest exhibition: a collection of photographs of her and her ex boyfriends in various bed-based poses. She also plans to sell her soul at the launch of the exhibition, a prospect which doesn't bother her until it happens and, coupled with the events of the previous 48 hours, sends her into an existential downward spiral.
All of this is intermittently amusing, occasionally laugh-out loud funny, but at just 90 minutes it's also exhausting and wears thin. And that's a shame. I've been an admirer of Delpy's since first seeing her in Kryzstof Kieslowski's Three Colours: White, where she played the ice cold wife of a Polish man unable to, uh-hum, perform for his young bride. Her subsequent work with Ethan Hawke and director Richard Linklater on Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), proved her to be an actress, and writer, of formidable talent and wit. (I can't wait for the third installment in that series, set in Greece and due some time in 2013.)
Sadly, that talent and wit isn't married to any real discipline here. In an interview with an art critic, Marion says she is the subject of her exhibition because she knows the subject well. Artists, including filmmakers and like people generally, are naturally narcissistic and prone to self indulgence. 2 Days in New York is more the latter than the former, though I suspect it's only autobiographical in the vaguest sense.
And to be fair, 2 Days In New York is more than vaguely funny but like Jeannot, Rose and Manu, it overstays its welcome long before time is up.