2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy's intimate, exhilarating new film, doesn't have much in common with genteel, starry-eyed rom-coms like Before Sunrise or Before Sunset. Warm, fuzzy memories of those two chatty but precious Richard Linklater films, which paired Delpy's French intellectual fantasy chick with Ethan Hawke's pretentious, scheming American backpacker, are effectively obliterated when we get our first glimpse of Marion and Jack (Delpy and Adam Goldberg, well-muscled and well-wrapped in a blanket of Cape Fear tattoos), a couple in their mid-30s who are taking the overnight train from Venice to Paris; Marion is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a gun that's pointed at her boyfriend's chest.
In interviews, Delpy has compared Marion's impulsive, surprisingly confrontational behavior to Robert De Niro's actions in Raging Bull, and, at times, the movie plays like an extended verbal prizefight between a sharper Jake LaMotta and an early Albert Brooks-style wiseass. Jack and Marion are older and freer with their insecurities and jealous barbs than most young lovers would ever dare, and they give in to sudden outbursts of frustration and hostility more often than couples of any age probably should. Their struggles and confessions provide most of the forward momentum of the film, which is loose, awkward, nosy, and, in the finest French New Wave tradition, dotted with eclectic movie allusions, from Last Tango in Paris to Voyage in Italy to M.
Delpy, who also wrote, produced, and directed, is as good as she's ever been, but Goldberg is quick and vulnerable enough to match her throughout. The supporting cast largely stays in the background, although the exuberance and high spirits of Marion's parents (played by Delpy's real-life parents) are like something out of Renoir's later movies, as is the fat, bored housecat whose expressionless gaze steals a scene or two.
Opens Friday, September 21st, at Ridgeway Four