Dynamics Dysfunctional and Otherwise
Julie Delpy on '2 Days in Paris'
As a couple learns difficult things about their lives apart from each other, shock and conflict can derive as much from the partner's attitude toward what is revealed as from the actual experience of family eccentricities or the existence of former lovers or their numbers. Julie Delpy's funny and profane debut feature, 2 Days in Paris, revels in the comic escalation of these tensions as Delpy's Marion and Adam Goldberg's Jack wander a city of lights nearly as touchy and neurotic as themselves, unconsciously trying to discover whether cultural or personal differences will do in their relationship first. As a romantic-comedy anti-heroine with anger-management issues, Delpy plays a character as memorable as the signature role of Celine she created with Richard Linklater for Before Sunset and Before Sunrise and finds a directorial style well-suited to her interplay with Goldberg.
Austin Chronicle: It's really interesting to me how in your movie, the language and cultural differences really just heighten the basic situation of becoming closer to someone else's family – you know, because families have their own private languages to begin with.
Julie Delpy: For me that's always been kind of ... well, I've been on the other side at times, trying to communicate within a relationship and dealing with these cultural differences. I mean, it's like you're always trying to communicate on many levels, and it's all about that, and so when you add culture, a lot of the comedy comes from that for sure. You can blame it on the French/American thing, but with language and all that, it adds another level of miscommunication, and I'm sure that brings out more difficulty.
There's definitely a lot of playing around with those things where he's horrified. Maybe not all this would happen at once, though, eating rabbit and everything. But my dad does cook rabbit at least twice a month. Rabbit curry with apples and potatoes. I don't know how much I should talk about that, because I don't want to be giving away secret recipes.
AC: Well, you have your parents in the movie, and you and Adam Goldberg used to be a couple, so how much of that casting is autobiography, and how much is using a stock company?
JD: Well, my relationship with Adam has absolutely nothing to do with the characters, and we never had anything like this happen. We never even went to Paris together, for example, so it's not at all inspired by my actual dynamic with Adam. He's not very jealous for instance. The character of Jack is very different. They both have some neurosis, and Adam can be obnoxious like anyone, but in very different ways and for different reasons than Jack. The character is totally different, even if I wrote it knowing things that Adam could do.
As to my father, well, I definitely wanted to base a character on him. The closest character in the film is my father. My dad loves to be naughty all the time, like that, so I wrote it to be like him.
With my mom, I've known women like that who would use the drama to get what they want. But I was always thinking more friends of mine. Like children. They cry and cry to get what they want. And I just thought they would be funny together that way.
And I really wanted to show how the parents' relationship is kind of dysfunctional and use that for [my character] Marion and Jack to see them and, you know, have it scare them a little.
AC: Right, it's like they can't even be safe at home.
JD: You know, basically it's like them going to Paris and getting attacked from all sides, by the boyfriends and the taxi drivers and then the parents, so it's the opposite of a bubble. It's a moment of crisis that can maybe turn into a good thing. It makes them deal with the way they avoid commitment and intimacy.
AC: With your own character, you've made her kind of infuriating. There aren't really enough women directors out there, but you're not taking the opportunity to make what anyone would consider a feminist icon.
JD: I don't care about that stuff, really, my responsibility as a woman. I'm from the first generation of women that were raised by feminists, and my dad is a feminist, and, you know, feminism is about the right to make the movie however I want. It's being truly equal to men, and that means the good and the bad.
Marion is high maintenance. I wouldn't date her. I wouldn't date Jack, either. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't make a movie about them. You know, we could probably be friends. I think she could be fun. When somebody attacks another person in public it can be utterly entertaining ... or pretty terrible. But, you know, it's the core of the person. Like I love my best friend. She's crazy, and we fight every three weeks, but I have a lot of affection for her.
2 Days in Paris opens in Austin on Friday, Aug. 24. For a review and showtimes, see Film Listings.