2 Days In New York (2011)

2 Days In New York first published by Film4

Summary: Julie Delpy’s sequel to 2 Days In Paris is a witty, irreverently coarse cross-cultural comedy about divorce, ageing and endings. 

Review: “Maybe this is a little too much,” declares Mingus (Chris Rock) to live-in girlfriend Marion (Julie Delpy) near the beginning of 2 Day In New York. “You’ve got your family coming to visit, you’ve got your exhibition, you’re selling your soul…”

Actually, even the first item on this list would be too much for some. Marion’s family, flying in from Paris, comprises her recently widowed, hygienically challenged socialist reprobate of a father Jeannot (played by Delpy’s actual father Albert) and her neurotically competitive nymphomaniac/exhibitionist sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), with Rose’s egotistic, unreconstructed, dope-smoking boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) – who also happens to be an ex of Marion’s – in tow. They bring across the Atlantic a chaos of cultural clash and domestic disruption. 

All this will soon be driving mild-mannered, Obama-adoring journalist and radio DJ Mingus to distraction. Meanwhile Marion, anxious about her debut photographic exhibition, facing unresolved feelings about her mother’s death, and behaving erratically under the weight of pressures both external and internal, starts Mingus wondering whether he may be living with a ‘psychobitch’ – even as she spends her own long dark night of literal soul-searching. 

This sequel remains true to the breezy wit and irreverently liberal spirit of Delpy’s 2 Days In Paris (2007) – only this time around, the groundwork is much better laid for the film’s more serious preoccupations (which came out of nowhere at the end of the first film, undermining their impact). Here, amidst all the intercontinental, interracial farce, our knowledge from the outset that Marion’s mother (and Jeannot’s wife of 40 years) has died, that Marion’s boyfriend Jack from the first film is no longer in the picture, and that both Marion and Mingus have children from previous relationships (indeed Mingus is twice divorced), serves as a reminder that when fairytale romances end happily ever after, they have not really ended yet at all. 

Even as we see, near the film’s beginning, an environmental activist/’oak fairy’ (Daniel Brühl, reprising his eccentric cameo from the original) high up in a tree shouting “Let’s fly!”, we suspect – and the film confirms our suspicions – that, behind all the levity and zany comedy, gravity will always win in the end. Which is why the ending on which the film does eventually settle feels so hard won, and so precious in its fragile optimism. 

Verdict: Every bit as witty and whimsical as the original, with an optimism about Obama-era liberalism that is both nuanced and hard-earned.

© Anton Bitel