The French, they are a funny race, oui? Well, on the evidence of Julie Delpy’s sequel to her 2007 film (“2 Days in Paris”), the answer is definitely non. The previous picture was an engaging trifle. This one is pretty dismal.
As it opens, photographer Marion (Delpy) has broken up with Jack (Adam Goldberg), with whom she was traveling in Europe five years ago, and is now living with PBS talk show host and Village Voice writer Mingus (Chris Rock), along Lulu, her darling son by Jack, and Mingus’ daughter by one of his two marriages. The plot, such as it is, has to do with a visit by Marion’s father (Albert Delpy), her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon), a slimy bum who happens to be an old flame of Marion’s.
Presumably we’re meant to be amused by the boisterous antics of these noisy, irritating people, but there’s little chance of that happening. Watching these loud, inconsiderate folk embarrass Marion and Mingus in public, argue among themselves (and with Marion and Mingus), make rude, thoughtless comments and generally act like clueless oafs might give you the same feeling of being trapped that many people experience when spending a long vacation with their own families.
Delpy manages a few bright lines of dialogue along the way, but for the most part the script is a succession of badly-conceived episodes that are even more poorly executed. How can anybody stomach a film in which one of the big gags is that an artist promotes her work by going through a piece of “performance art” by literally selling her soul? Or in which her lie about having a brain tumor precipitates her photographs, hitherto ignored, to sell like hot cakes—the presumption being that the work of a dead artist will automatically escalate. Naturally it opts for a hopeful ending of reconciliation (complete with moralistic narration), but by then you’re too exhausted to care.
Among the actors, Dylan Baker, as a concerned neighbor, shows comic flair. And Rock has a few presumably improvised moments that could elicit a smile. But though you have to admire Delpy’s willingness to come across like an unpleasant shrew, her performance is basically just an exercise in dreary self-indulgence. Her dad, Landeau and Nahon fare no better, and Vincent Gallo shows up for a terrible cameo.
The picture is no better visually, with Lubomir Bakchev’s jittery hand-held camerawork merely another irritant to suffer through, though some of the New York locations are pleasant enough. The use of rapid-fire montages in the early going is particularly annoying.
One of the culminating jokes in “2 Days in New York” has to do with pigeons relieving themselves on a few of the less pleasant supporting characters. The movie makes a viewer feel in something of a similar position.