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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Movie You Need to Be Talking About: "2 Days in New York" [REVIEW]

Chris Rock is arguably one of the smartest comedians we've got right now, a funnyman who's never been afraid to discuss the social/racial differences in our society in his very own brand of brilliant tongue-and-cheek prose. Until recently, the actor has found less critical success on the big screen. That is, until he took on the role as French actress/writer/director Julie Delpy's live-in boyfriend in 2 Days in New York.

Before you see the movie, this is hard to even picture. But once the movie opens with Delpy's self-scribed neurotic photographer and New York City transplant Marion (fresh from 2 Days in Paris) affectionately introducing audiences to her wonderfully supportive radio talk show beau Mingus (Rock), we forget all our misgivings. Rock enters the scene in full-on hipster attire--thick-framed black eyeglasses a flannel button-up sweater--happily in love and cozied up in bed with Delpy.

The two are as snug as two bugs in a rug until Marion's family comes for a brief but tumultuous visit to the Big Apple. They stay with Marion and Mingus (and their two kids from previous marriages) and virtually turn the place upside down. Jeannot (Julie's real-life father Albert Delpy), Marion's dad, is the sausage-obsessed Santa Claus-looking man who always has a smile on his face, even when he stares blankly at Mingus as he tries desperately to interpret his English. Meanwhile, Marion's hypercritical sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) is what Marion herself describes as "an exhibitionist." She's often seen walking around the apartment in only a t-shirt or even less than that (an early morning habit which startled Mingus at one point in the movie). She unexpectedly brings along her pot-smoking boy toy of the moment, Manu (Alex Nahon), much to the horror of his past flame, Marion, which causes an even bigger stir in the house.

So therein lies the setup of this hilarious romp that's half culture clash, half exclamatory romantic comedy for the average lonely and/or neurotic human. Picking up where she left off from her previous episode in Paris (back when Marion was still married to her son's father, Jack), Delpy pens an equally disruptive farce that matures Marion while it also manages to pull out almost every strand of her hair in the process. It's the eve of Marion's big photo exhibit, which is also the same night that she is auctioning her soul (literally, not figuratively--don't ask).

Though the whole "soul" part is never fully explained, even after considering the metaphorical aspect of it, the movie still moves along quite energetically despite it. This farce goes from sweet and lovable to wild and deeply sarcastic--indicative of many quintessential romances. In other words, the film flirts with the standard romcom formula, then rather smoothly thrusts the audience in another direction.

While the scenes featuring Marion's all-over-the-place family are a hoot to watch, Rock's portrayal of a rather subdued character grabs the audience's attention (if not only for his side-splitting facial expressions). Here, he reacts more to a scene rather than spawns the action, but does it impressively and with surprisingly deadpan humor. Mingus is fiercely trying to maintain an element of normalcy--both for his daughter and his piece of mind--while the rest of the characters fall off the reservation (including Marion, who has clearly become unglued by her new guests). With this character, Rock still gets to employ his witty observations with which many of us are familiar and appreciate, but on a much more refined scale.

Simultaneously capturing the New York neurosis and branding her own sense of quirk, Delpy's delightful 2 Days in New York proves that a lot of mess can happen in the span of forty-eight hours. But, even with its brief imperfections, these are two days you'll want to watch over and over again.

Rating: B+


Regina is... said...

hmmm, I think I might wanna see this!

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