"Dysfunctional Family Affair"
Contrary to the protagonist’s statement at the end of 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, this movie isn’t “just a love story with a happy ending.” Sure, the unwed couple remains together at the end of the story, along with their two children from respective previous marriages and a baby on the way, but the movie’s worldview is far from happy or positive.
Manhattan couple Marion (Julie Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) each have children from prior relationships. They find their comfortable, “modern” family dynamic thrown off by a visit from Marion’s French relatives. They include Marion’s father, Jeannot (played by Delpy’s real-life father, Albert), her sister, Rose, and Rose’s current boyfriend, Manu, who used to date Marion.
This situation is rife with possibilities of some good drama and comedy. In fact, 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK could have turned out to be an endearing story about cultural misunderstandings, love triumphant and families committed to loving one another. Instead, the movie offers up yet another portrayal of dysfunctional family life, along with the limitations of marriage in the modern world. The movie’s view of marriage is so dysfunctional. For example, Marion sums up her father’s relationship to his recently deceased wife of 40 years as “a whole lot of sex with the same person, or no sex at all.”
A follow-up to Julie Delpy’s 2007 movie 2 DAYS IN PARIS, 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK has been highly anticipated in film festival circuits. Despite some witty writing and delightful performances by Delpy and Rock, it’s sorely disappointing. At the end, viewers are left with the distinct impression that traditional relationships, including marriage, aren’t only passé, they simply can’t exist. The modern world has moved on, so we, as modern and emotion-driven human beings, should move on with it.
That said, the movie does point out some limitations to its failed worldview, without, per se, offering much of a solution. For example, when struggling artist Marion has auctioned off her soul because she doesn’t believe in it, she immediately becomes uncomfortable and goes to great lengths to get the sales receipt back. Viewers also find out Marion doesn’t believe in the soul because she can’t believe in the afterlife, because she’s certain her mother would have contacted her if an afterlife truly exists.
Ultimately, what we’re left with in 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK is the image of a woman dealing as best she can with the suffering and fragmentation of modern life. Eventually, she must find her solace in the boyfriend by whom she becomes pregnant. Thus, there’s no place for the transcendent in this movie, and no place for hope beyond ourselves. This furnishes a very tarnished, dangerous worldview for this at first glance innocuous, light-hearted flick about a dysfunctional family.
Media-wise viewers will find 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK unacceptable. The crude language, drug references, and nudity are excessively strong, though the sexual content otherwise is mostly off-screen.
(RoRoRo, PCPC, C, E, FR, Pa, Ho, O, LLL, SS, NNN, A, DDD, MMM) Intensely emotion-driven Romantic, somewhat politically correct worldview, with a brief Christian-sounding mention of dead grandmother’s soul having gone to the sky (where an angel is depicted), plus an environmentalist scene where an “oak fairy” on television seeks to save the trees of NYC, Eastern religious beliefs about freeing an animal in order to help a human soul pass over to the afterlife, brief mention of a homosexual man (but the men kissing on the cheek in France is French custom and does not constitute homosexual content), and children are rebuked during the Halloween celebration for their fascination with the macabre; 70 obscenities (a few in French aren’t rendered correctly in the subtitles) and four profanities plus some scatological content, including a child urinating on the adults when they try repeatedly to measure his private parts; no violence; strong sexual content, primarily in the dialogue and off-screen, including talk of sex, the nymphomaniac and exhibitionist sister seduces the protagonist’s boyfriend, discussions about sexual parts and acts, unmarried couple lies in bed (she refers to him as her “koala,” a sexual innuendo, but they don’t do anything on screen because her father’s in the living room), another couple heard having sexual relations in the bathroom and involves someone’s electric toothbrush, art photography depicts protagonist in bed with man wearing S&M mask, and many other examples; male frontal nudity when father is held at customs for smuggling French saucisson into the country and then again in steam room, man’s rear hangs out of towel, full frontal female nudity (out of focus) and then back (also out of focus) as exhibitionist sister searches for towel, and art photography depicts female frontal nudity; wine drinking in two scenes; no smoking but very strong drug content includes mention of cocaine in discussion, sister’s boyfriend wants marijuana and complains that the protagonist’s boyfriend is the “only bro who doesn’t smoke” in NYC, cab invites dealer over to apartment and buys drugs in front of pre-teenage child (she later imitates him by trying to sell grass from Central Park as a souvenir to tourists), and man is eventually deported for rolling a joint in front of the police station; and, very strong miscellaneous immorality, such as protagonist lies about having brain tumor to appease neighbors and later sells her art because everyone thinks she’s going to die, protagonist auctions off soul because she doesn’t believe in it (although she spends the final moments of the movie striving to retrieve it), protagonist lives unwed with boyfriend and their respective children and by the end of the movie is expecting another child out of wedlock, father keys SUV limo for fun (and because it guzzles gas), kid offered wine, dysfunctional family.
2 DAYS IN NEW YORK is billed as a comedy, but it seems more like a depressing drama. This is partly because of the movie’s negative view of marriage. In the story, Marion and Mingus are a couple living together, with children from previous marriages. They find their comfortable, “modern” family dynamic thrown off by a visit from Marion’s French relatives. The relatives include Marion’s father, her promiscuous sister, and her sister’s current boyfriend, who used to date Marion.
2 DAYS IN NEW YORK could have been an endearing story about cultural misunderstandings, love triumphant, and families committed to loving one another. Despite some witty writing and delightful performances by the lead couple, it’s sorely disappointing. At the end, viewers are left with the impression that traditional relationships, including marriage, are not only passé, they simply can’t exist. The modern world has moved on, so we should move on with it. Media-wise viewers will find 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK unacceptable. Especially the lewd content, drug content, and brief but graphic nudity.