Students craving a taste of summer to alleviate the pain of adjusting to class schedules need look no further than Low Steps. On Thursday, Sept. 8, a screening of “2 Days in Paris” will be held on the steps of Low Library at 7:30 p.m. Columbia’s Maison Française is working with the French Embassy and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to participate in the fourth annual Films on the Green Festival, a summer series of outdoor showings of French films around the city. This year’s theme is summer vacation.
The film, staring Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg, fits perfectly within that theme. On their way back to New York from a vacation in Italy, two lovers—Jack, an American, and Marion, a Frenchwoman—stop in Paris to visit Marion’s family for a few days.
One might expect a film with this title to be extremely romantic, with slow walks along the Seine and trips to the top of the Eiffel Tower. However, American-French culture clash lies at the core of the film. Marion’s response to Jack’s American criticisms of her Parisian life remains consistent: “This is France!” The French argue when the Americans try to be polite, and the French also project a more open sense of sexuality, regarded as vulgar by Americans. Some viewers may think these are just stereotypes, but the film explores them with such humor and honesty that these conflicts become real.
Delpy, who not only stars in the film but also directed and wrote the screenplay, observes the contradictions that arise from the melding of French and American culture perfectly. The film, seen and told from Marion’s perspective, is mostly in English, with subtitles when Marion switches to French, making the viewer bilingual. The alienated Jack has the awkward task of sitting politely while those around him talk incessantly in a language he does not understand.
Marion and Jack hilariously navigate through linguistic and cultural differences as well as the issue of Marion’s many past lovers. This film is not about the romantic city of Paris but about how both natives and visitors experience Paris together.