2 Days in New York is grossly over the top
Starring Julie Delpy and Chris Rock. In English and French with English subtitles. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, August 17, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
In 2007’s 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy’s manic Marion was married to Adam Goldberg and fiercely squabbling with her French family. Since then, Marion has moved to Manhattan to be with her new partner, Mingus, raising his own child alongside hers.
The most interesting thing in New York is that it gives Chris Rock the chance to play someone utterly unlike his other screen characters. An NPR radio personality and contributor to the Village Voice, the jazz-bearded Mingus is a soft-spoken intellectual seriously flummoxed when his partner’s father and sister (again played by her real-life dad, Albert Delpy, and cowriter Alexia Landeau) come to visit. They arrive stinking of cheese and other French stereotypes, and nympho sister Rose has brought her current beau, a sleazy pothead who is also one of Marion’s many exes. (He’s played by Alexandre Nahon, another contributor to the scattershot screenplay.)
Relationships are central to Marion’s life as an artist, as detailed in a photo exhibition she is about to open, although she displays little expertise at domestic life or creative career. For her fourth time directing a feature from her own script, Delpy shows a remarkably unsure hand, especially where comedy and characterization meet. The farce is so grossly over the top that it’s hard to take anybody seriously, although we are asked to care as the thin story winds down. And the scenes in which Rock is allowed to improvise with a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama only make things worse.
It’s not all bad news. Delpy wrote some nice music here, and she has some clever visual ideas along the way. On another note, she and Ethan Hawke are writing and acting in a third installment of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise series, and she’s also directing a biography of Joe Strummer. Her work may be uneven, but she’s not predictable.
Watch the trailer for 2 Days in New York.