In Which 2 Days in Paris Seems Like a Lot Longer But The News Is Not All Bad

You Can Drive Me Anywhere

by Alex Carnevale

2 Days in Paris

dir. Julie Delpy, 96 min

When you hear the title of this film, you think about all the sappy movies set in Paris. Writer-director Julie Delpy, a Parisian, and a talented singer as well, wasn’t much interested in a love letter to Paris.

Rambo!

Delpy’s Paris is a war zone, frequently argumentative, a tiny world of the insulated bourgeois, in which rebellion takes the position of semi-pornographic artwork and freedom means keying cars on the sidewalk. The French existence, in Delpy’s view, isn’t exactly as it is constructed by others–the two try to recreate shots from Last Tango in Paris and M–it has its own unique give and take. Above all, the cab drivers are racists.

Well I do see the certain fucked-up things about Parisians way more. I do become one of them again after a few days back, but there’s a few days of adaptation to being pushed around on the subway, the bus, and having to listen to horrible taxi drivers telling you about Jews being the reason for the end of the world and shit like that. You’re like, [sigh]. Anti-Semitic racist cab drivers…

Delpy discusses Hollywood ignoring her here.

I didn’t put it in the film but you’ll have African taxi drivers telling you about Arabs and how bad Arabs are. It’s ridiculous; racism from every side of the coin. It’s really stupid. I think taxi drivers get angry because they have to drive in Paris and it’s the most horrible thing in the world, you know, it’d turn anyone into a fascist! It’s really hard to survive if you’re just a normal person! I know a few really nice taxi drivers – I’ve travelled with some – but it must be really hard to keep it together and not be angry because it’s so horrible driving in Paris. Even walking around you have to watch out, they’ll run over you at a red light, it’s really bad. I mean, it’s bad everywhere but Paris is very aggressive, very Latin. It’s a real pain in the ass!



So I basically have to adapt to my Parisian self when I get to Paris and that’s when I notice all those things. In the film they’re kind of clichés, stereotypes and stuff, but they’re real; if you go to a market you’ll see rabbits, you’ll see piglets, you will see all this. We didn’t make it up, it’s there.

Goldberg and Delpy were briefly a real life couple, although the film isn’t based on reality or anything. They dated 10-12 yrs ago. Goldberg says of their unique chemistry:

Some of the dialogue was taken from actual situations and Goldberg admits that his character in the film is a direct representation of himself. “I’m playing myself, I can’t speak for her,” he says. “The relationship they have in the film is not autobiographical in a literal sense. I would say more in terms of the kind of interactions, dispositions with each other. What probably was of interest to her and what was of interest to me was this idea that I think there’s a certain entertainment value that the two of us have when we’re with each other and to parlay that into a film seemed like an amusing idea. Although what happens in it, this sort of subterfuge, is a concoction.”

Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg in Delpy's Two Days in Paris

“The Wages of Dying is Love” — T.W. Walsh (mp3)

Delpy:

I visited part of my family in Tahiti recently and there was my cousin and his daughter, and my boyfriend was noticing that the freedom of the relationship between parents and children and how people talk to each other and how openly the 20-year-old girl was talking about her boyfriends or sex life with her parents was something that you don’t notice as much in America, that’s for sure. There’s something about the family and maybe it’s part of French culture and maybe that’s why we have the Marquis de Sade and Batai. It’s part of this weird culture where people… they don’t do more than anyone else but food and sex, everyone talks about it at lunch with their parents. It’s a weird thing. Even the hardcore Catholics in my family, they talk about sex all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, it’s just the main subject of conversation.

There is some debate over whether or not these two make a good couple in the film. They bark at each other constantly like schoolchildren, they also have a nice repartee. They are suited for one another but not too suited. Since people seem to be becoming more and more alike, it seems like everyone, even a New York Jew and a lascivious French songstress, can find common ground. I look forward to even weirder combinations of what people seek in their other.

“Good Love, Bad Love” — Eddie Floyd (mp3)

The Delpstress and her current beau.

This movie is far different from the novelty filmmaking of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. While those films are enjoyable for what they are, they’re largely fantasies of a real relationship, rather than an actual one.

Here the dominant subject is male and female jealousy. This couple, together for two years, still cannot get the idea that their partner is not entirely fulfilled out of their minds. Thus there is always a chance of being alone again.

Delpy’s moving voiceover near the end captures the exhaustion of this kind of emotional commitment perfectly, and because she is unafraid to fail, she succeeds at embodying a particular malaise and sadness.

Goldberg has never been better, and deserves a chance to be a buff Jewish Brando. Delpy, at 37, is less appealing. There are no sex scenes in the film–sorry, Will–and there isn’t much that screams the Paris we Americans know either. (The Catacombs are closed and Adam Goldberg can’t get close enough to Jim Morrison’s grave to see anything.)

The scene where Delpy flips out at an ex-boyfriend in a cafe is by far the film’s best. To see pure anger righteously expressed is an all-too rare moment in film. There are many such moments in 2 Days in Paris, and because cinema has dealt with so few before, it is delightful to see them out in the open.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Good Enough (acoustic)” — Sarah McLachlan (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Casey Kait reported from Paris for us.

Becky went to Berlin.

Competitiveness got the best of us.

An emotional set of links.

7 thoughts on “In Which 2 Days in Paris Seems Like a Lot Longer But The News Is Not All Bad

  1. Adam Goldberg looks more like Julie Delpy’s stalker. Women in France (and on planet Earth) age naturally, unlike on planet Hollywood.

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