Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Rock, Julie Delpy, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Kate Burton, Dylan Baker, Daniel Br�hl, Talen Ruth Riley, Owen Shipman, Malinda Williams, Carmen Lopez, Emily Wagner, Arthur French, Petronia Paley
Written by: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon
Directed by: Julie Delpy
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity
Running Time: 96
Date: 01/23/2012

2 Days in New York (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Big Apple Croissant

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Back in 1995, the French beauty Julie Delpy co-starred in a wonderful movie called Before Sunrise. Nine years later, she, her co-star Ethan Hawke, and her director Richard Linklater, teamed up to make an even better sequel, Before Sunset, upon which they shared writing credit.

Continuing on as a writer/actress and adding director to her list of accomplishments, Delpy has once again made a sequel that's better than the original. Her 2 Days in Paris (2007) depicted the tumultuous relationship between a couple (Delpy and Adam Goldberg), while visiting her parents over the course of two days. The resulting film was somewhat funny and more than somewhat abrasive, with a miscast Goldberg not feeling entirely comfortable with his character's neuroses.

With her new film, 2 Days in New York, Delpy continues her theme -- children exhibiting different personalities around their parents -- but with a much better groundwork. Now her Marion is dating radio host Mingus (Chris Rock), and her family comes to visit New York. Rock is much funnier than Goldberg, and Delpy plays well with the racial side of the relationship; although there's no "racial tension," per se, the French family cheerfully asks Mingus clueless questions about Obama and Salt-N-Pepa.

The situations here are only quasi-sitcomy, and Delpy fortunately treats them with little buildup or extra attention. When her pretty sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) walks around nude in front of Mingus, or Rose's idiot boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) invites a drug dealer into the apartment and barters for a bag of weed in front of the children, Delpy's camera captures the moments almost as documentary. The humor comes later, as the characters register their shock.

This time the arguments between characters seem to rise naturally, and everyone comes from an emotionally believable place; no one acts terribly outrageously or out of the realm of probability. In the most outrageous scene, Marion tells a mean neighbor that she has a brain tumor, and this out of genuine frustration and helplessness. Later, the joke is followed up, and brought even more out of proportion, but it seems logical to follow it a bit further (and Rose's nudity comes into play here as well).

Only as Mingus grows more frustrated does the movie move into other territories; he speaks to a cutout standee of Obama in his office for a few funny riffs. And in one sequence, he watches the French family tearing into a box of croissants. From his point of view -- slow motion and with animal noises -- they look like wild beasts.

This film looks slightly better than its predecessor, but still feels low-budget and captured guerilla-style, though NYC still looks as lovely as if this had been a big-budget Nora Ephron film. Delpy just barely keeps all this stuff in balance, and so 2 Days in New York isn't necessarily a great film, but one that comes kicking and screaming into the world, and finds its place through sheer tenacity and luck.
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