Published Aug 09, 2012Julie Delpy is best known as an actress (Before Sunrise, An American Werewolf in Paris), but is one of the gifted few that understands screenwriting and directing beyond the boilerplate. Whereas other more prominent actresses-cum-directors (Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson) have punched above their weight, Delpy displays her narrative prowess and keen ability to reveal character through rapier witticisms that buttress her precise visual cursors.
Picking up where 2 Days in Paris (Delpy's first directing feature) ends, Marion (Delpy) has left her boyfriend, and the father of her son, and started a new life with Mingus (Chris Rock) and his daughter. Their creative vocations (she's a visual artist; he's a Village Voice writer and talk radio host) complement each other yet seem to lampoon their inherent need for normalcy.
This is especially apparent when Marion's father (played by Delpy's real father, Albert Delpy), sister (co-writer Alexia Landeau) and ex-fling, Manu (Alex Nahon), arrive from Paris for a short holiday. Manhattan sightseeing quickly devolves into public catfights, mild racism and the bootlegging of French sausages and cheeses. Mingus's patience is tested, as is their relationship. He begins to converse with a cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama, and Marion literally sells her soul to the highest bidder at her art exhibit opening.
Although this is Delpy's tour de force, the breakthrough is Chris Rock. Playing against everything that makes up his archetypal characters of the past, his Mingus is a magically brewed, addictive elixir, served unadorned like a shot of vodka. The burn is short, but the giddiness lasts for hours. Rock would be wise to entertain a dramatic acting career, as he definitely has the chops, and can take one on the chin.
2 Days In New York seethes with ferocious wit and feral energy, a joyous romp through familial strife sprinkled with a love story and bad French body odour. It's a blithe comedy from a fresh directorial visionary. (Magnolia)