Directed by: Julie Delpy
Written by: Julie Delpy
Starring: Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Daniel Brühl
Language and communication serve as an important factor within any relationship. Without proper communication, it’s doomed to fail, especially if it becomes romantic. Writer/director/star Julie Delpy dives into this idea and does so with characters creating a cacophony noise.
After a failed romantic trip to Venice, Marion (Julie Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) visit the former’s parents after their engagement. This visit marks the first time Jack has met Marion’s parents and he did not have the proper preparation for the madness that would ensue. This film very much puts the audience through the perspective of Jack as he encounters Marion’s family, who are very French in every way. They are very natural with their hygiene, really enjoy their sausages, and unapologetically live their lives. A type of lifestyle not commonly found in America, which provides the culture shock for Jack.
The story excels because of its focus on the importance of language and how it can deter connection. Jack encounters several moments where Marion fights with her family about a wide array of subjects and you can see Jack not being able to understand any of it. The audience has the privilege of having subtitles to follow along with the chatter occurring and Jack has to parse through the little french he knows to figure it out. 2 Days in Paris lacks the fear of letting the awkwardness in a room brew. Moments that would make you cringe or close your eyes, but the film forces you to sit with it. That awkwardness occurs whenever Jack attempts to communicate with anyone not named Marion in Paris. Every conversation he attempts becomes painful to watch as an American because we would be struggling just as much. It can be as simple as asking for directions or any concern that cannot be easily conveyed.
This film centers on the relationship between Jack and Marion, as they have to deal with her family and past flames reappearing. Marion’s family creates the most comedic and awkward moments because of the cultural clash with Jack. They all have their quirks and it contributes greatly to transporting the entire audience to Paris. Marion’s family and Jack come from similar yet drastically different cultures and one of the major areas of departure lies in conversations around sex. A major plot point in the film revolves around Marion’s past lovers and how she has remained friendly with them after all of these years. Marion and her family openly talk about sex because of its casual nature in her country. America has a much more puritanical culture that makes mentioning sex in any way taboo. It creates for more tremendously funny and awkward interactions.
Everything that works in this film comes down to Julie Delpy as she created the story and brought it to life through her direction and writing. Her credits as an actor speak for themselves but her direction does well to create a disorienting experience. As an actor, she captures trying to deal with her family while trying to soothe her very insecure fiance as well. Delpy’s character, Marion contributes to the madness while also standing as the beacon of comfort for Jack. Delpy beautifully balances the awkwardness and the comedy to make a lovely story.
Overall, this film takes a look at authentic French life and just drops an American point of view to take it all in. It makes the film worth the watch, especially with anyone who ever experienced challenges with a language barrier. The quick pace of the dialogue between Marion and her family makes it disorienting for the audience, which Delpy intended to do. Even if the subtitles were present to assist, it’s still difficult to keep up with everything happening in the film, thus making us all Jack.