Dir. Julie Delpy, Germany/France/Belgium, 2011, 96 mins
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Alexia Landeau
Review by Carol Allen
Julie Delpy is a very talented woman, who brings a sharp and wicked sense of humour to her work, both as an actor and a director. Four years ago she made a delightful and unusual romantic comedy called “Two Days in Paris”, in which she played photographer Marion, who takes her American boyfriend Jack, played in that film by Adam Goldberg, back home to France to meet her somewhat outrageous family. In this new film Delpy returns to her screen alter ego of Marion, who has now broken up with Jack, by whom she has a small son, and is living happily in New York with the child and her new partner Mingus (Rock) and his daughter from a previous relationship. Until that is Marion’s family arrive from France for a visit, take over the couple’s tiny apartment and create mayhem in their lives.
Delpy’s real life father Albert Delpy, reprises his role from the previous film as Jeannot, Marion’s father, a jolly and still unabashedly sexually frank old cove. Alexia Landeau (who, along with Nahon, worked on the screenplay with Delpy) also returns as Marion’s sister Rose, a child psychologist who gets on Marion’s nerves by “analyzing” her son and has a habit of walking round the apartment wearing no knickers, to the discomfiture of Mingus. Rose has brought her boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon) who expects Mingus, being black, to score him some dope and discovers to his chagrin that Mingus is” the only black dude in New York who doesn’t smoke”. The revelation in this film is in fact Rock, in what is probably the straightest role of his career, playing the somewhat uptight and constantly bewildered Mingus, a guy who is used to being in charge of his life (he hosts two radio shows and writes for “Village Voice”) but who secretly bares his soul to the cardboard cut out of Barack Obama that he keeps in his office. He is the American point of view in counterpoint to these louche and laid back Europeans – wonderfully funny and for once, you can hear every word he says.
This is a delightful film, which tells its story with charm, wit and originality, making imaginative use of fantasy and flashback, as in the puppet show Marion puts on for her young son to fill him and us in on her love story with his dad (who doesn’t appear in this film). It is also deftly directed by Delpy, who has a firm grasp of the techniques of her craft and knows when to stick to the rules and when to break them. It is outrageous but not shocking, great fun and very funny.