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Friday, August 24, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"2 Days in Paris" could use a oui bit more creativity

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2.5 stars

Showtimes

"2 Days in Paris," with Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Daniel Brühl, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy. Written and directed by Julie Delpy.

96 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, some nudity and language.

Julie Delpy, the waifish French actress best known for "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," has long had a charmingly airy, Diane Keaton-ish allure; you can practically hear her trilling the French equivalent of "la-dee-dah." And now, appropriately, she's made a very Woody Allen-ish movie.

"2 Days in Paris," a neurotic cross-cultural comedy, was written, directed, produced and edited by Delpy, who also stars, composed the music, and cast her parents (veteran French actors Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy) as the parents of her character, Marion. Keaton, by comparison, appears to be a slacker.

While "2 Days in Paris" has its charms, it might have befitted from some additional creative input. Its story is fairly routine, as neurotic romantic comedies go: Marion, as we breezily learn, is a control-freak photographer returning to Paris, her hometown, with her American boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) in tow. They've been together for "two years of happiness, with ups, downs — and in-betweens mostly." Jack is a nebbishy hypochondriac (sound familiar?) who spends much of the movie grumbling. You wonder how these two ever stuck together for two weeks, let alone years.

But Delpy has a knack for finding just the right details; filming in her own hometown, she fills the movie with funny cross-cultural observances: Paris, Marion tells Jack, has no plumbers or sarcasm (really?). To Jack, the city seems alarmingly full of Marion's ex-lovers. (Marion cops to "just vaguely" sleeping with one of them; a nice turn of phrase.) There's a charming sequence involving a very, very large cat named Jean-Luc (who gives a dignified if unnuanced performance), a hilariously grim meal of rabbit, and an appearance by some handsome French firefighters, who express their envy of New York firetrucks.

But as Marion and Jack wander the city, squabbling all the way ("We're in Paris!" "No, we're in hell."), "2 Days in Paris" eventually finds its "Annie Hall"-like groove. Though Marion's true love is clearly Paris, Jack just may squeak in as No. 2. Relationships are tough, this movie tells us, but so is loneliness; and Delpy serves us up some sweet romance — at a sidewalk café, mais oui — as a justly earned dessert.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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