Chris Rock and Julie Delpy in 2 Days in New York
Julie Delpy took on no small task when deciding to make this film: a light comedy about human relationships based in New York City was always going to draw comparisons to the master of the genre, Woody Allen (not least for Delpy’s characters Broadway Danny Rose style glasses). Even though lengthy comparisons could be made between this and Allen’s canon, 2 Days in New York is an interesting and original piece of work. It follows on from 2 Days in Paris, with the roles having essentially been reversed, as Marion (Delpy) is joined in New York by her French father, sister and ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately Adam Goldberg is a notable absence from the original cast, with Marion having since left him and started a relationship with Mingus (Chris Rock). Marion’s mother Anna is also absent, due to actress Marie Pillet’s - Delpy’s real-life mother - passing in 2009.
Whilst Delpy’s directorial style is at times slightly lacklustre, her script, co-written with Alexia Landeau and Alexandre Nahon, is witty and charming, never relying on the usual jokes seen in ‘fish-out-of-water’ comedies. The language barrier between the French relatives and New York natives is used in addition to already existing situational humour, rather than as a crutch to make lazy jokes. The dialogue is natural and sharp, peppered with humour, with punch lines falling mid sentence; a refreshing change from the flurry of modern comedies lazily dripping with the basic feed-line, punch line, pause style of humour, so over-used and unfunny it has fast become a parody of itself. The supporting cast are all commendable; Marion’s father, played by Delpy’s real-life father Albert, is brash and charismatic in a role that in less skilled acting hands could easily just be irritating. Co-writers Landeau and Nahan are also superb as Marion’s exhibitionist sister Rose, and friend of the family/ex-boyfriend/freeloader Manu, constantly trying to connect with Mingus through drugs and rap references that are twenty years out of date.
Delpy herself is a natural comic actor, with all the neurotic artistry of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. But in truth, it is Chris Rocks who most impresses. Considered by most to be, along with Louis C.K, the finest stand up of his generation; he has suffered mixed success in films. The quality of his performance in Dogma, and the popularity of his voice work in the Madagascar franchise are often overshadowed by the critical and commercial failure of the projects he is more personally involved with, such as the 2007 flop I Think I Love My Wife (co-written with C.K). Here he is naturally funny: the script is good enough to allow him the freedom to just act, with glimpses of his stand up persona evident during his conversations with cardboard cut out of Barack Obama.
Towards the final third 2 Days In New York does start to lose its way, with the focus changed to Marion’s upcoming art exhibition, where she is to sell her own soul as a conceptual piece. A bizarre and slightly misjudged cameo from Vincent Gallo and an unsatisfying conclusion tarnish what was, it would seem, a well intentioned piece of work from auteur Delpy - who, as well as starring, directing and writing, also contributed to the original soundtrack. As the art critic who comes to see her exhibition states, “I like the concept, if not the execution”.
2 Days in New York will be showing at Broadway from Friday 8 June
Official 2 Days in New York website