Female Filmmaker of the Month, part deux

I’m feeling like practicing my French this month, so I’ll be discussing the lovely Parisienne Julie Delpy. Born to actor parents, Delpy started in the business at a young age, when she appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s Detective at age fourteen. Since then she’s had an impressive acting career, and recently has moved seriously into the writing, directing, and producing side of things. For this first post dedicated to her, I’m discussing her most recent effort in that area, the film 2 Days in Paris. It’s Delpy’s second full-length film as director, but the only one available on DVD in the U.S.

2 Days in Paris follows Delpy as Marion, a Paris native who now lives in New York with her American boyfriend, Jack (Adam Goldberg—you know, Chandler’s crazy angry roommate when Joey moves out. That guy). On the way back home from a vacation in Venice, they stop to spend a couple of days with her parents (played by Delpy’s real parents, Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy). The boyfriend does not speak French, the parents don’t speak English and also appear to be walking the line between eccentric and just crazy, and then the ex-boyfriends start popping up. Though the set-up was nothing particularly special for me, and some scenes that are amusing still veer too much into absurdity or groan-worthy coincidence, the movie works quite well because of the central relationship and how it is presented. Marion and Jack speak to each other the way people in real life do when they’ve known each other forever; they’re at that point where an insult, as long as it’s funny, serves the same purpose as a compliment. The way they speak to and over each other, the way they laugh at awkward moments and pause and stammer, and don’t even think of censoring references to not-so-flattering bodily functions—all of this is refreshing. It’s indie film dialogue without that palpable effort to be clever that so many indie films seem unable to escape.

The other great thing about this movie is that even though it’s about a relationship, the characters never feel like they are only defined by that relationship. This is often a problem in romantic films, especially with female characters. Marion refuses to let her romance creep too far into other aspects of her life—but maybe ‘refuses’ is the wrong word. In fact, it never occurs to her that such a thing would happen. Yes, she’s glad to show off her boyfriend to her family and friends, and to do a bit of translating for him here and there (side note: they’ve supposedly been dating for two years; is it just me or after a serious year or so at least, isn’t it time to take a class in your partner’s mother tongue, just as a courtesy?), but she doesn’t feel she owes him more than that. Watching this sort of very real-feeling female lead is always a treat. Marion has the quirkiness and la-dee-da-ness of Annie Hall, with the stubbornness and lack of embarrassment over causing a scene in a restaurant of Sally Albright. It’s more than a few steps above any character Jessica Alba has played lately, that’s for sure.

This movie is Delpy’s in just about every sense of the word. Besides writing, directing, producing, starring, and showcasing her home city, she also edited, composed the score and performed one of the songs. The end result is a movie that’s imperfect but well worth watching, and clear evidence of a promising filmmaker at work.

Coming up: discussions of Delpy’s involvement in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Trois Coleurs trilogy, the great film Before Sunrise, and the even greater Before Sunset.


1 Response to “Female Filmmaker of the Month, part deux”

  1. 1 Becca June 8, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Acts, directs, producers, composes? She sounds like Chaplin. What an auteur!

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