If there is anything writer/director/actress Julie Delpy has learned from Richard Linklater, it is to suffuse her dialogue with as much intellectual banter as possible. 2 Days in Paris, Delpy's directorial debut, is unquestionably a result of Linklater’s indirect tutelage and accordingly employs the prose style of Monsieur L.
Delpy, best known for her roles in Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, as well as a brief cameo in Waking Life as the same character, fills the cinema’s ever-present cerebral void with her first foray into Orson Wellesing it with 2 Days in Paris.
Co-starring Adam Goldberg as Jack (a firm contender for an updated version of Woody Allen), Marion (Delpy) insists on taking a detour to Paris with her charmingly aberrant boyfriend on their way from Venice to New York to pick up her cat Jean-Louis before they return. Only it doesn’t turn out to be quite so simple. Jack is in no way prepared for the information he learns about his girlfriend of two years, specifically that she is somewhat of a slut.
While most people have romanticized expectations of Paris, Jack, already naturally neurotic and whiny, has no desire to take in the sights or sample the esoteric cuisine (rabbit, for example), and least of all endure the sight of Marion’s pleasant and flirtatious encounters with her various exes, including Manu, Mathieu, and Lukas.
More than anything, 2 Days in Paris drives home the point that no matter how long you’ve known someone, there is always the strong possibility that there is an entire FBI file’s worth of information you may never be able to deconstruct. It’s a film about the difficulty of revealing yourself fully to someone without feeling terrified and uncomfortable as a result.
Marion has an insatiable need to maintain friendly relationships with her previous boyfriends because, in the back of her mind, she is planning for the inevitable breakup with Jack. Her misgivings about surrendering to commitment stem from the fear that Jack will finally figure out all of her secrets and immediately jump ship. And, as it turns out, her apprehensions seem warranted as Jack is less than accepting of the newly flaunted coquette persona Marion adopts whenever in the presence of past boyfriends.
Defeated and fed up with Marion’s overt amorousness toward every other man except the one she is supposedly in love with, Jack takes off on his own only to have a run-in with a warm-hearted terrorist who blows up the McDonald’s he is in, a hysterical woman who tells the French police that he stole her purse, and a frazzled group of American “code crackers” (as in The Da Vinci Code) who look at him with bloodlust upon seeing him again as he was the one who initially gave them the wrong directions to the Louvre when they first arrived at the airport.
After each one’s own separate self-discovery, Marion and Jack can see two conclusions: The long, drawn out breakup or the miraculous wherewithal to see it through (because it really is quite taxing to chuck two years out the window and start from scratch with someone new who may potentially have a slew of even more unbearable idiosyncrasies).
There is a bit of a dual ending wherein both options are explored. While other writer-directors use this tactic as an easy way to appease both factions of an audience, Delpy seems to be doing it for purer reasons. She is aware that most relationships are constantly teetering on the brink of chaos, that the moments of calm are never consistent. 2 Days in Paris is a testament to the idea that being in love is easy, it’s the laboriousness of staying in love that will discern the flighty from the devoted.