Jack (Adam Goldberg) won't take the subway, for fear of a Muslim terrorist attack; Marion (Delpy) insists that France is terror-free. Jack hates Marion's leering ex-boyfriends; Marion thinks their blatant sexual advances are no big deal. The lovers meet one cabbie who is anti-Semitic, and various others who hate gays, Romanians, women and Arabs. At a party, one of the leering ex's calls Jack a "happy, hairy Jew" -- even though Jack says he is technically non-Jewish because his mother is Catholic. The ex retorts that Hitler would not have hesitated to put him in a concentration camp, nor would any of the French partiers getting drunk in that very room. "I never liked camp," Jack replies, aghast.
Critics have compared the characters to those from the early films of Woody Allen. If Delpy, 37, comes off as a French version of Annie Hall (even in person at the W Hotel, she is so anxious that she picks at her fingernails), Goldberg is like a hipster version of Allen, always beleaguered -- yet covered in tattoos. Delpy, who previously starred in and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the romantic dramedy "Before Sunset," says she intended "Paris" to be "meaner and more politically incorrect" than her previous romantic comedies. She says she wrote the role of Jack specifically for Goldberg, who also has a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, and who is best known for playing Jewish characters in films such as "Saving Private Ryan" and "The Hebrew Hammer."
"I created the role for Adam because he has a sad clown quality, and I needed an actor who looks funny when he gets upset," she adds. "The more he suffers, and the more he is terrorized by his environment, the funnier he is. I needed the character to be in pain constantly, because as Jack says in the film, 'Paris is hell!'" Delpy quickly adds that she loves Paris, but that the residents "can be very tough on visitors -- and I feel their pain."
While the movie focuses on the dissolution of a relationship involving two cerebral yet very different people, it also pokes fun at what Delpy calls "the casual nature of French anti-Semitism and racism."
She says that some French observers have taken offense at her movie, because she is herself an expatriate living in West Hollywood who dares to critique France. In response, she insists that she is an equal opportunity offender. Her own character is ditzy and callous, and Jack comes off as a person "who is a man first of all, before being Jewish or intellectual.
"He is driven by his penis and his jealousy and his instinct, which is that Marion is his female, his property, the vessel that will carry his genes one day. And that is the most basic thing, beyond any culture or religion."
The film opens Aug. 10 in Los Angeles.
The '2 Days in Paris' trailer