[Review] – 2 Days in New York

30 Aug

Title: 2 Days in New York
Year: 2012
Director: Julie Delpy
Writers: Julie Delpy and Alexia Landeau, based on a story by themselves and Alexandre Nahon
Starring: Chris Rock, Julie Delpy, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon
MPAA Rating: R, language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity
Runtime: 96 min
IMDb Rating: 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Metacritic: 61

A few weeks ago I read an interview with Julie Delpy in which she said she had written a new movie, called Virgo Rising, and that her dream was to muster the nerve to go ask Woody Allen to take a role in it. Seeing 2 Days in New York it’s easy to see why he’s at the top of her wish-list; the sophisticated, intellectual, neurotic brand of comedy that’s on display in this film, which was co-written, directed and stars Ms. Delpy, was very clearly influenced by the legendary New York filmmaker.

That’s good, by the way. I’m a huge fan of Woody Allen and he’s definitely amongst the directors who’s most shaped my film IQ and taste, so I’m down for that kind of comedy. Granted, the fact that I like that kind of neurotic comedic characters and situations is all because of Mr. Allen, who pretty much created that whole thing, so the bar is set pretty high when someone other than him goes for it. Thankfully I really like Ms. Delpy, mostly because of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and I had seen her 2007 effort 2 Days in Paris, from which this one spawns, so I knew I was in good hands.

The film plain works, Ms. Delpy is just super appealing and this film is infinitely charming, when you meet her Marion character again it’s easy to fall back in love with her, and it’s evident here that everyone involved was having a pretty great time doing this. That’s obviously mostly because they kept it pretty closely knit. Ms. Delpy is obviously the star, and the supporting cast is filled out with Albert Delpy, her actual father, as well as Alexia Landeau and Alexandre Nahon, who wrote the screenplay with her.

The “outsider” if you will, is Chris Rock, who plays the other lead, since he’s neither related to nor wrote the script with Ms. Delpy, and yet he fits this whole thing so damn well. He just plays off Ms. Delpy and everyone else tremendously as Mingus, the radio talk-shot host and journalist boyfriend of Marion with whom he lives in a nice New York apartment. But then the two days the title refers to happen, as Marion’s father, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend suddenly decide to visit them, delivering a nice case of culture-clashing, and pushing every button of the relationship as they cause the type mayhem only dysfunctional families can accomplish.

Ms. Delpy really is wonderful, and 2 Days in New York is probably a tad better than its predecessor. You see her interacting with Mingus in their nice little apartment in the city, she with a daughter spawned from the relationship she had with the Adam Goldberg character in the previous movie and Mingus with a son of his own from a previous relationship (they have a cat, too). It’s just brilliantly scripted (and probably more than a tad improvised, I would imagine) as her father is just this fish out of water and her sister is just a piece of work, probably preoccupied because her current boyfriend who is in tow is actually one of Marion’s many exes that were referenced in the previous movie.

It’s fun to see Mr. Rock slowly but surely becoming more infuriated by the craziness that’s randomly descended upon him by his girlfriend’s crazy family, with Rose, the sister, causing scenes at dinner and liking to walk around naked, probably in an attempt to get her boyfriend jealous or to have her way with Mingus like her sister had her way with her boyfriend or to entrap a peeping tom neighbor.

That’s the kind of stuff that goes on in this film, and it works because of just how well it’s all performed. Mr. Rock is actually very good in that he realizes he’s got to be the most stable person in every scene, so he just lays back and lets Ms. Delpy provide the intensity and movement required by it. Their chemistry, by the way, is actually really good and Ms. Delpy was onto something when he decided he was the one to play Mingus.

As for Ms. Delpy herself, well, I think it should be agreed upon by now that she can pretty much play anything. She’s worked with directors that range from Richard Linklater to Jim Jarmusch to Krzysztof Kieslowski, and the fact that she’s been sought out by some of those master directors, and delivered for them, speaks volumes about the quality of her work. She’s done it again, this time for herself in her own movie, showing us that she can be great in pretty much every genre, and that she’ll never lose that overwhelming sense of smart and charm that are always present when she’s included in a frame. This film is the 150th 2012 release I’ve seen so far, and I’m damn glad that milestone of sorts was one in which a woman was the driving creative force behind it all.

2 Days in New York is a film that really worked for me in a lot of levels. I thought the comedy was pretty sharp, but I especially liked that beneath it there was this sense of underlying sadness and grief within some of these characters, and Ms. Delpy is genius in how she touches upon these more difficult emotions here. A few months ago Ms. Delpy said that Hollywood hated her, and maybe that’s so, but I really would like to see her become a bigger name for some reason; maybe if Woody Allen can’t star in a film for her then at least he should hire her for one of his. If he doesn’t though, you know quality directors will still be knocking at her door, and even if they don’t, she’s proven here that she can do just fine all by herself.

Grade: A-

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