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Laramie Movie Scope:
2 Days in Paris

The world is simultaneously intimately small and largely foreign

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2007; Deux jours Paris, French and English) Pairs spending pairs of days in Paris, hapless at happiness. Or at least that's the fate of Jack (Adam Goldberg) and Marion (Julie Delpy, who wrote and directed this romantic dramedy, which includes her actual parents as Marion's mother and father) on their return from vacationing in Italy for him to meet her parents, Anna (Marie Pillet) and Jeannot (Albert Delpy). The world is simultaneously intimately small and largely foreign.

Together for two years in New York City (she's a professional photographer with a damaged retina, he's a Jewish/Catholic American interior designer), the couple sleep in an apartment above her folks: Marion, 35, raised in the French capital, encounters several of her former lovers; Jack, lacking international language skills ("So ugly when you speak French"), is at a disadvantage.

In the first of only a few incidents in which Jack has an opportunity to communicate in English he gives a group of American tourists directions to the Louvre (without actually knowing where it's located) in order to move ahead of them in a queue for a taxi. When Marion expresses disappointment at his mistreatment of his fellow countrymen, he justifies himself by pointing out that the women (as indicated by at least one wearing a T-shirt) had voted for Bush.

Speaking of cabbies, one proposes (in French) having sex with Marion; another upsets her with his racist remarks.

Jack and Marion frequently have disagreements; he says being with her is "like dating public television" with her lecturing him. She complains (aside) that while in Venice, instead of being in the romantic moment with her, he spent most of his time taking pictures as well as hoping to bump into someone he knew as a sign of the theory of "collectivity dynamics of the small-world networks."

In addition to feeling uncomfortable with his language disability, Jack feels ill-at-ease in her parents' home when her mother walks in on them while they're in bed about to make love (as he's struggling with a French letter), he's served a plate for dinner of rabbit with (it's own food) carrots, Marion shows her family a photo of him with helium balloons affixed to his cock. (This latter incident arouses Rose's ire at her sister's insensitivity, though everyone else finds it funny.)

When Jack wants to visit the cemetery with Jim Morrison's grave (the mentioning of which also struck discord with Jeannot), Marion says: "You don't even like The Doors." After encountering Manu, a poet and one of Marion's former beaus (with whom she speaks at length in French without translating for Jack), she admits to Jack that at 19 she once gave Manu a blow job, but which in the grand scheme of things - Iraq, Bush, and avian flu - should seem after all this time trivial; Jack counters that Bill Clinton's getting a blow job had serious repercussion for the free world.

In her attempt to reassure Jack of her deep affection for him, "You're very special," he replies to her: "Like in the retarded way." At Vanessa's party when someone asks if he's Marion's "new boyfriend," Jack replies: "somewhat used." Playing her own game, Marion informs Manu that she met Jack following his being in jail eight years for homicide.

After listening to another discuss a woman's pubic hair as looking like "Hitler's mustache," Jack says to Marion when she inquires what they've been talking about: "Fascist vaginas." Viewing the erotic art works in Jeannot's gallery & listening to an open discussion of intimate anatomy (not unlike helium balloons raising cocks), Jack again experiences discomfiture, as he does when going with Marion and her father to the market, seeing whole pigs and cows' tongues, as well as Jeannot's scratching the sides of cars parked onto the sidewalk.

After misinterpreting what he sees when Marion is around other men without her knowing he's watching, he looks at the text messages on her cellphone, which seem to confirm his worst suspicions.

When Marion and Jack are thrown out of a caf following her verbal and then physical assault on another erstwhile lover, she justifies her anger as a spontaneous reaction, knowing that Gal took sexual advantage of children in the Third World. In confronting her about the text messages ("I didn't do anything bad"), Jack hypothesizes that the small-world theory apparently applies to Marion's sex life.

A further "comedy of errors" follows their separation, including Jack's again coming upon the American tourists, a brief acquaintanceship with a "schizophrenic vegan" (who calls himself a faerie) in a fast-food joint, and his near arrest when a woman's hand bag is stolen. Back in the room upstairs, Anna reveals to Jack her long-ago intimacy with a now-deceased rock'n'roll star.

Regarding the cycle of men running through her life every few years, Marion in confessing her sense of wasting so much time without achieving her objective of discovering someone with whom she can stick (as she did on things that fascinated her during her childhood) also frets that ecologically as a woman she's expended more toilet paper than most men.

(Julie Delpy also edited the film along with co-composing and performing in the song playing through the end credits.)

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)