She'll Always Have 'Paris'

"2 Days in Paris" writer-director Julie Delpy plays a Frenchwoman who brings her boyfriend (Adam Goldberg) back home. (By Catherine Faux)
Friday, August 24, 2007

"2 Days in Paris" is a punch line, of sorts, but most of the joke is lodged in the minds of a generation that remembers a Paris where Julie Delpy (who directed, wrote and co-stars in this movie) and Ethan Hawke -- playing fictional characters Celine and Jesse, who met in 1995's "Before Sunrise" -- re-met in 2004's "Before Sunset."

It's also a punch line for those who recall the Paris of previous decades, where a young Jean-Pierre Leaud once agitated over young women in the films of Fran├žois Truffaut, where Anna Karina played screen muse to director-husband Jean-Luc Godard and where Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider had their last tango.

In "2 Days," Delpy tacitly references all of that as she takes audiences back into that city where the magical and the romantic have so often seemed to occur on cue. But the joke is on Marion (Delpy) and her American boyfriend, Jack (Adam Goldberg), who spend most of their time bickering. They're in town so Jack can meet her parents. But most of his time is spent bumping into her old flames.

For audiences coming to this movie with no cultural reference point, "2 Days" may seem to take, well, two days. But for anyone else, perhaps of a certain age if not sophistication, this is a playfully enjoyable experience. Yes, it's horrible in many ways -- for one thing, Delpy is no writer or director. The story rambles along with little more than episodic purpose. And it seems to be entirely an exercise of hit-or-miss improv comedy. But there is enough "hit" material to make this fun. Delpy is such an infectiously appealing personality, she almost wills this movie to work. And for laughs, Goldberg has some pretty funny moments as an eternally frazzled, put-upon neurotic who hates Paris and the French.

-- Desson Thomson

2 Days in Paris R, 96 minutes Contains sexual situations, nudity and profanity. In English and French with subtitles. Area theaters.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company