Saturday, 10 July 2010

This isn't Paris. This is Hell.

No 390 - 2 Days in Paris
Director - Julie Delpy

So Julie Delpy is pretty damned cool. She is an actress in cool films. She is one of those cool indie people. So imagine my complete lack of surprise when I find that the film she wrote, directed and starred in is painfully cool. The opening montage of images, with Delpy's voice-over, just began to tell me that this film may have too many hipster credentials. I may not be cool enough to watch it (pfft... who am I kidding. I'm solid cool).

This film is embracing a culture clash. As a couple (one American and one French) go to Paris for a couple of days. Over these two days Jack (played by Adam Goldberg) and his girlfriend Marion (Julie Delpy) wander around Paris and meet a impressively large number of Marion's exes. This begins to put Jack in a bad mood and he gets progressively grumpier throughout the film. However, even at the beginning of the film he appears to be an antisocial whining grump that would rather be at home in New York on his own. He moans about his allergies, he moans about french condoms, he moans about the quality of the house he is staying in. He just moans a lot. After a while it just becomes rude - because although Marion's friends and family (certainly her family) are a bit strange - they are trying very hard to be hospitable to him and he spends his whole time complaining.

However Marion is no better. She seems completely unsympathetic - she is prone to genuinely terrifying outbursts of aggression. She also seems to ignore Jack a lot in Paris. And considering he is in a foreign city... he does need support.
Some of the outbursts are incredibly uncomfortable. Marion's rant about an ex leaving her to have sex with 12 year old Thai prostitutes is not only uncomfortable to listen to but seems a very strange addition to the film, completely ruining the tone and making everything really rather awkward.

This is also present with the cabbies. If we were to take 2 Days in Paris as a definitive guide, it would seem that all Parisian cabbies are homophobic, racist, sexist pricks.

So what do we do in a film where the protagonists are so unsympathetic (Marion a lying agressive nut job, and Jack a moaning intolerant prick)? Where can we turn to? With whom can we make our connection?

Thus enters Marion's family. They are bonkers! I don't know if it is because I have a French mother but I found Marion's mother to be pure comedy brilliance: the way that she was just a bit mental, a bit over bearing, wholly inappropriate and always turning up at the wrong time. It made me feel warmly nostalgic - French mothers are funny.

But the best character is a fleeting and dreamlike character. A character who is a bit mysterious and the only person who seem separate from the reality of the rest of the film. Lukas. Played by the always excellent Daniel Bruhl.

Lukas is a fairy. Not a homosexual - but an actual fairy.

It is his intervention and his assistance that causes Marion and Jack to finally speak to one another. It may result in an enormous argument but finally they're happy. That's what matters.

Lukas helps them get together.

Lukas is my favourite character in this film, which in the end is a film I really enjoyed - but couldn't exactly pinpoint why.

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