2 Days in New York
2 Days in New York simply relies on strong characters and strong writing to propel the film into greatness.
Romantic comedies. Who do they think they are? They come in here with their big name stars and their shitty contrived plots and make our wives and girlfriends swoon. Is love not funny? Does every love story have cliché plots in real life? Did I miss the part where I had to pander to my wife’s sassy black friend? Or misinterpret something so drastically, I have to redeye to New York to win her back from some studly yet somehow misogynist or majorly flawed hunk? Where are the real stories of couples having interesting and real conflicts? Where are the movies that depict the female as something more than a cookie cutter “everywoman”? If I see one more romantic comedy where the woman is a helpless stooge despite the fact that she has a high up managerial position, I’m going to write letter to the editor of my local newspaper. And it won’t be even toned.
What ho? What’s this? The ghost of Rom Com past dropping off a movie theater ticket to 2 Days in New York? Sigh… I suppose I could give this one a shot. Julia Delpy, writer director and star, I trust you. Don’t break that trust.
Release the doves! Sound the horns! I finally found a bench setting romantic comedy that I loved. 2 Days in New York is everything I hoped it would be. Fleshed out characters, real conflict, real humor, minimal clichés and most importantly, no helpless woman lead that needs a man to sort things out for her. I have to admit however, I did not know this was a sequel to 2 Days in Paris until afterwards but it is not necessary to watch that film to understand or appreciate this one. 2 Days in New York simply relies on strong characters and strong writing to propel the film into greatness.
Written and adapted for the screen by Julia Delpy, she also directs and stars in the film which co-stars Chris Rock as her boyfriend Mingus. The conflict is established right away. Marion’s (Delpy) family is coming to visit from Paris and unbeknownst to Mingus, is bringing a lot of emotional baggage to disrupt Marion’s normally calm demeanor. Marion’s sister Rose brings a dimwitted loser, Manu, along for the trip who is enthralled with the multiculturalism of America and stereotypes all the minorities he encounters. Rose herself is an opinionated free spirit who irritates Marion to the point of violence. Her father Jeannot, played by her real life father Albert Delpy, is recovering from the loss of his wife and is much happier being around family. He is a source of radiating silliness throughout the film.
The problem lies when Mingus is driven to distraction by the family’s inability to keep their emotions in check coupled with Manu’s awful behavior in front of Mingus and Marion’s kids from past marriages. It may sound like a typical formula for a romantic comedy involving in-laws, but the strength of the film is that it knows how to balance the characters’ screen time and to use the characters to move the plot forward instead of relying on a drop-in, replaceable and boring MacGuffin to move things along. I’m looking at you When in Rome.
The characters are clearly the strength of this film. No one is zany, no one is over the top, everyone is real, and relatable. Jeannot is still in mourning from the passing of his wife of many years but since he is around family, one could hardly tell by the way he acts. He is a constant source of silly physical comedy and his commentary on America through the eyes of a Frenchman makes for some funny moments. The script for all the characters were thoroughly thought out and there is no vacant and deadlines in the entire film. It makes for a very enjoyable 96 minutes.
The only thing I could take issue with for the film is simple. For most of the film, I really didn’t know what the movie was about. But that is a product of its pace and chemistry. 2 Days in New York doesn’t come right out and tell the viewer how they should feel or what they should expect. It does have some classic narration throughout the film but it is only there to provide a little insight on some of the characters. At about three/fourths the way through, I finally understood that the movie was simply about a weekend where the main character’s family was in town and how much it threw her off. It wasn’t about some impending wedding that everyone had to be on their best behavior for or some zany situation that is about as probable as throwing magic coins in a fountain in Rome and suddenly having six hunky guys chasing after you. I’m looking at you When in Rome.
2 Days in New York was organic, it was funny and most of all, it was believable. I might have to expand my viewership of her movies. If all of her films carry this much manic comedy, I will definitely consider myself a fan.