"I like the theme more than the execution” muses a pompous art critic as he inspects Julie Delpy’s latest exhibition, in the star’s follow-up to 2007 romcom 2 Days In Paris. Some might feel similarly about this haphazard meditation on Franco- American relations, which hurls screwball situations, oddball cameos and the odd one-liner liberally at the screen without much caring if any of them stick.
The result does the job capably enough, especially if you have fond memories of Delpy’s dalliance with Adam Goldberg five years ago – or the Before Sunrise/Sunset diptych with Ethan Hawke, to which it owed so much.
Yet it all seems so formless and random you’ll wish there were a steadier hand on the tiller, something that might have been achieved had its star, director, co-writer and co-producer not multi-tasked to such an extent. Marion, Delpy’s scatty alter-ego, has moved on a touch since her last appearance, having since traded Goldberg for talk-radio host Mingus (a restrained Chris Rock).
Yet a visit from her kooky dad (played by Julie’s real-life père, Albert), her flirty sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and the latter’s feckless, pot-smoking boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), soon puts le chat among les pigeons, coming as it does ahead of her scheme to flog off her soul as part of a wanky conceptual art piece.
Rock’s role is to largely look on slack-jawed and uncomprehending as his in-laws invade and disrupt his ordered universe. With only so much culture-clash material to work with, Delpy is forced to venture into more surreal territory – most notably in the scene where she tries to buy her soul back from Vincent Gallo, essaying himself in a gag you’d probably have to be a divisive auteur yourself to fully appreciate.
What it all adds up to is an anything goes take on modern relationships with a side order of broad stereotype. Expect to be amused and bemused in equal quantities and you’ll be amply entertained.
Delpy’s attempts to be France’s Woody Allen continue apace with an appealing if variable exploration of her customary obsessions that finds Rock in rare deadpan mode.