Julie Delpy infuses her acting with intelligence and beauty, but as a writer and director she also brings the wackiness.
Her new work, “2 Days in New York,” is a companionable follow-up to “2 Days in Paris” from 2007. Once again, Delpy demonstrates her willingness to load bits of her own life into the Cuisinart and press pulse.
A mixture of sharply comic cultural and familial clashes plus warm-hearted whimsy, the new movie firmly establishes Delpy’s place in the trans-Atlantic fey community, as a sort of love child of Woody Allen and Jane Birkin. She even finds a spot for Vincent Gallo.
Delpy’s greatest achievement may be her ability to persuade family and friends to participate in comedies of madcap manners. While skewering those closest to her, whether their stand-ins or their actual persons, Delpy presents her own character as an impeding bullet-train wreck, going a kilometer a minute toward a self-induced smash-up.
In the first movie, Delpy introduced Marion, a French photographer making a brief stopover in Paris to present her American boyfriend to her parents. Marion’s charming but batty parents were played by Delpy’s own parents, Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy.
For Marion’s boyfriend, Jack, Delpy recruited one of her exes, Adam Goldberg. He was generous enough to play Jack as the sort of asshole American who goes to another country without knowing a word of the language and is miffed when the locals keep speaking it. He's the sort of idiot boyfriend who visits his girl’s hometown and gets pissed when she runs into old lovers.
This time around, Jack is somewhere in the city but literally out of the picture. Marion is raising their 3-year-old son Lulu (Owen Shipman) with Mingus, nicely played by Chris Rock in real-person form. The host of a radio show and a contributor to the Village Voice, Mingus does get off the occasional one-liner to remind us of Rock’s day job.
“If you find someone who will do a funny show about Haiti, then go ahead and hire them because I’m not the guy,” he says during one phone conversation.
Rock is less successful riffing with a cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama, in which he comes across more as a star-struck fan than a sharp political observer.
Mingus also has a young daughter, Willow (Talen Riley) from one of his failed marriages, and he is worried because Marion’s family is about to invade their very small piece of lower Manhattan turf. Mingus and Marion share the kind of narrow, exposed-brick apartment suitable for urbanites in love, provided they get out a lot.
Unfortunately, Pillet died in 2009, which Delpy makes gentle use of in launching the new tale. But Albert Delpy returns as Marion’s pungent but twinkly dad Jeannot. So does Delpy’s friend Alexia Landeau, reprising her role as Marion’s sister Rose.