On Movies: Delpy again plays Marion, but in New York

Chris Rock and Julie Delpy are a New York couple visited by her family from France in "2 Days in New York."
Chris Rock and Julie Delpy are a New York couple visited by her family from France in "2 Days in New York." (Magnolia Pictures)
Posted: August 19, 2012

In 2 Days in New York, a follow-up to 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy is once again Marion, a neurotic, impulsive French ex-pat who can't quite get her life in order.

In the 2007 release, she takes her American beau, played by Adam Goldberg, to Paris to try to put their relationship back on track. Visiting her colorfully eccentric parents and running into old boyfriends - lots of them - doesn't exactly help.

In 2 Days in New York, which opened Friday at the Ritz Five, Delpy's character - a photographer of the artsy, self-reflecting kind - now lives in Manhattan. Her significant other, a journalist and radio DJ, is played by Chris Rock. Each has a child from a previous union. And everything seems fine in their life together, except that Marion's father ( Albert Delpy, her real-life dad), Marion's sister ( Alexia Landeau), and Marion's sister's impossibly obnoxious boyfriend ( Alexandre Nahon) have flown over from France.

"Ever since your family got here you've become another person," Rock's Mingus grumbles, a look of woe crossing his face. It's great to see the stand-up star comfortably inhabiting a role in a little indie, and the dynamic between Rock and Delpy is wonderful.

"That was really important for me, to write a real character for him," says Delpy, on the phone from New York. "I wanted him for the part, but I didn't want it to be like a typical 'on' Chris Rock thing. I wanted it to be very real."

Delpy hardly knew Rock - they had met "for 10 minutes" at the Academy Awards nominees luncheon back in 2005. She was nominated (with Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater) in the original screenplay category, for Before Sunset. Rock was that year's Oscar host.

"We spoke about movies and things," Delpy recalls. "He's a very successful comedian, but he has so many other interests. . . . And in the few minutes I spoke with him, I was already thinking that it would be interesting to give him something that's really not what people expect from him."

It took her a few years to get 2 Days in New York off the ground, however. She wrote, directed and appeared in the 17th-century vampire pic The Countess, and a French childhood story, Skylab, in between. "And I had a baby, which takes some time," she adds. She lives with Marc Streitenfeld, the film composer, and divides time between Los Angeles and Paris.

As for the differences - and similarities - between Marion and Delpy, they are easy for the actress to delineate.

"She's way more lost and confused," says Delpy. "Life doesn't really push me around as much as Marion. I'm more in control of my life, let's say.

"She's crazy, first of all. And I'm far from - you can't direct movies if you're crazy, I can tell you."

At the same time, though, Marion is endearing. "She's not a psychopath. She obviously has a lot of flaws, a lot of quirks, but she's very sweet. And she's a bit naive. . . . I mean, she's telling a guy she's incontinent. It's so not the right thing to say to anyone!

"The truth is, in a lot of films, it's the guy who is always the nerdy, neurotic, endearing character and the woman is the pretty girl, she's steady and stable. Here, it's the opposite: she's the nerdy girl, and Mingus is the grounded one."

Delpy reports that she, Hawke, and Linklater have started working on a sequel to the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset films. "We're writing, so possibly something soon. . . . We'll see."

In the first film, released in 1995, a Parisienne and an American meet on a train and spend the whole night together, wandering around Vienna. In the second, they reunite, 10 years on, their lives having taken different turns.

"We tried to capture something about romantic love, but as real as possible," she says. "Not like a romantic fairy tale kind of thing, and I think people relate to it. It's not coated in sugar."

Delpy, 42, is thinking about other future projects, too, only half-jokingly indicating that a third 2 Days is not out of the question.

But she also - half-jokingly? - says that she's had it with female-centric storylines.

"I want to try a movie built around men," she says. "I gave an extreme example to my agent the other day. I said, 'I don't want to direct anything with a woman in it . . . . I want everyone to be a man. No, there can be one woman: she's a prostitute, and I want to see only her legs.'

"I'm tired of talking about relationships from the point of view of a woman," she adds. "I've been doing it so much, I just want to make a guy's movie where they all shoot each other, with one hooker in the middle and you don't even see her face.

"That sounds really sexist, but luckily I'm a woman. I can do that."

Edgerton on 'Timothy,' 'Gatsby,' and Osama. The Australian actor Joel Edgerton, who played opposite Tom Hardy in last year's wrestling-siblings saga Warrior, came to town to talk up the movie he made with Jennifer Garner, The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

It's a soggy tale of a couple who can't have a child, and then one magically pops up - literally - from their garden.

"It's totally against everything I'd ever thought about doing in the movies," Edgeton says, explaining how he came to the, well, sugar-coated project. "Although it did remind me of movies that were part of my childhood. You know, through the '80s there was a ton of them, successful and not successful, but all magical and [they] captured my imagination. At the best end of the spectrum was E.T., and then down the line there were things like Mannequin and Splash. . . . That sort of stranger-from-another-world thing.

"So, I heard the idea of Timothy Green, and then I heard that Jennifer Garner was attached. . . . And who else is better at playing a deserving mother? Who else has that kind of warmth on screen?"

The film opened Wednesday.

Edgerton is also in The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann's extravaganza-ized reading of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. Leonardo DiCaprio is Gatsby, Carey Mulligan Daisy, Tobey Maguire is Nick Carraway, and Edgerton is Tom Buchanan, Daisy's millionaire husband. The film, expected at year's end, has been moved to next summer, to give Luhrmann more time to put all the pieces - and, yes, the 3-D effects - together.

"There's a kind of heavy heat to that film that is appropriate to releasing it in the summer," Edgerton says. "I have seen a section of it, a reel that Baz put together for the cast and crew which you could watch with 3-D glasses on, and it's tantalizing. . . .

"I think the world of the book being so stylish and drunk and loud and chaotic and sexy - all of those briefs really fit Baz. Plus, when you look at all of his movies, they are so about love, and unfinished love, and unrequited love, and yearning. Gatsby is that as well."

Edgerton just returned from Jordan, where he was shooting Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's dramatization of the special forces mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. The film is due in December.

"There was a definite electricity around the whole thing," Edgerton says. "It is such an important event in modern history - most recent modern history - and that added a real gravitas to what we were doing."


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies

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