Written, directed by and starring the earthily radiant Julie Delpy, 2 Days in New York is a loose sequel to her out of leftfield hit, 2 Days in Paris.
In the lead role of highly-strung single mum Marion, who has since split with her ex Jack (Adam Goldberg does not appear apart from in puppet form) Delpy is trying to bring up her son Lulu alongside new partner, the likeable if slightly cold fish Mingus, played by Chris Rock.
Smooshed in a small, rented apartment along with guest appearances from Mingus’ daughter Willow from a previous relationship, things soon take a turn for the complicated when Marion’s family turn up following the recent death of her mother.
Delpy’s real life dad, Albert, reprises the role of her on-screen papa Jeannot, relishing his crazed old bandicoot shtick, first glimpsed attempting to smuggle an abundance of cheese and meat into Manhattan. Alexia Landeau is a treat as her sparring, sex-crazed and pot smoking sister Rose, while Alex Nahon is good comic value as Rose’s well-meaning but imbecilic boyfriend.
This is a study of character and relationship, with a casually wordy script that stretches the film’s material a tad too far, but is never less than warmly engaging. There are flashes of real insight here that could have been teased out more, with Marion’s grief at losing her mother needing a little more room to breathe. Rock’s delivery is snappy, but his character a little too lacking in empathy.
While it would be easy to go hell for leather on the French stereotypes, Delpy plays the culture clash with a light hand that’s assured, and for the most part the movie sings.
There are some genuine wickedly amusing moments, like Marion’s vicious dismantling of a bitchy art critic at the opening of her latest photography show, and her inexplicable under-stress attempt to fake a brain tumour to get out of being evicted. A late cameo from Vincent Gallo is a stroke of genius.
If you go in expecting lashings of plot twists and action set pieces you will be disappointed. If you want an hour and a half of well-observed character comedy with a warm heart, you may just fall for this two-day trip around New York City.
Stephen A Russell