Monday, 22 October 2012

Review: 2 Days in New York

Year: 2012
Director: Julie Deply
Screenplay: Julie Deply, Alexia Landeau
Starring: Julie Deply, Chris Rock, Albert Deply, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Dylan Baker

Synopsis is here

I wasn't surprised that my girlfriend could not get into Julie Deply's ditzy comedy. After half an hour, she gave up. It's a rom-com truly not for her tastes. A fan of the likes of Serendipity, I was not at all shocked that Deply's messy view on life, love and relationships got her. And not in a good way. Not a negative on my other half at all, but the romantic movies that she enjoys always lean towards the comfortable. Everything slotting into place, like a Disney feature. Deply, star of films such as Before Sunrise/Sunset has a far more disordered approach. All the better, says I. With so many comfortable romantic comedies languishing in the realm of diminishing returns, 2 Days in New York's disorganized yet light hearted resonance is a well needed shot in the arm.

Filmed in a very free wheeling, intimate style with its point of view is squarely set with it's bewildered lead, 2 Day's in New York has a zaniness that I did not expect. However, outlandish moments in the film that would sink other romantic comedies are invigorating here, purely because Delpy's Marion is a more in touch human being than the Heigl-types that have invested the romantic domain. Her oddball point of view is displayed in its purposely erratic editing, we connect to Marion as she tries to connect with everything else. Even when she fakes a brain tumour to try and stabilise an antagonistic encounter. We are with her because we can relate. Relationships of all kinds can be tricky.

The theme of relationships are cemented with the film main motif of art mirroring life. Marion; an artist, is selling her soul as part of an installation. Along side this, are photographs of Marion in past romantic relationships that have not worked in the past. From the start we see how her frustrations stem from making such thing try and work. What have her relationships done to her soul? Even if she doesn't believe in it enough, why is she selling it? Futhermore, who would want it?

The torment continues as Marion's father (Albert Deply) and sister (with boyfriend in tow) appear out of the blue and descend a truckload of dysfunction with them. Her sister, Rose (Landeau), brings with her a sibling rivalry that hasn't evolved since adolescence. Walking around scantly clad to warm the blood of the men around her and boil her sisters. Her father, is a kind but misplaced man, who doesn't fit well with the hectic city life he finds himself in. The less said about Rose's boyfriend (Nahon), the better.

The family's arrival, clash with relationship between Marion and her live in boyfriend, Mingus (Rock). The harmony is destroyed by a barrage of miscommunication through the language barrier, culture and New York's blurred lines of racial identity. Rose's boyfriend, Manu, with his Public Enemy t-shirts and chatter about Salt n Pepa, is bemused at Marion's ability to find the only "brother that doesn't smoke". Manu's observations are often key despite being politically incorrect. Reminding the audience of the typical established roles and traits that Afro Americans are often viewed by.

The film balances smart and insightful relationship issues, with a good humoured comedy of manners. Deply's desperate housewife tries to balance her sexuality, motherhood and bohemian lifestyle along side her quirky family, but it never talks down, or condescends, and much of its humour comes from a believable and grounded place. Such discipline continues with the casting of Chris Rock. Playing against type, Rock is a refreshing as an actual loving partner who doesn't fit into the mainstream, overtly masculine archetypes often portrayed by granite chinned mouth breathers.

The overall tone of the film; for lack of a better word, is playful. And while the final third descends into silliness with a infamous director cropping up and racking up hipster points, even then, it doesn't fully leave the general feel of the film. 2 Days in New York manages to be just as light as so many of its ilk and yet still happens to look at healthy interracial relationships with a keen eye, as well as the often troublesome role of family and how it ebbs and flows. One hopes that their girlfriend gives it another chance.