Samuel Goldwyn Films
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Bigger Picture: There is something pivotal about the two-year mark in most long-term relationships. For Jack and Marion, it marks the point where they’ve established a comfortable and deeply intimate knowledge of each other while at the same time incessantly tussling and bickering about each other’s idiosyncrasies, neuroses and aggravating habits. What at first appear to be superficial problems—Jack’s hypochondria and paranoia and Marion’s flirtiness and strange familiarity with her ex-lovers—manifest themselves into the larger nagging question that couples continually grapple with: “Should we continue?” The exploration of this question is filled with sardonic wit, clever dialogue and some pretty hilarious blunders in sexual etiquette.
En route back to New York from their not-so-romantic holiday in Venice, the lovers detour through Paris so Marion can visit her parents and Jack can visit Jim Morrison’s grave (because he is “a huge Val Kilmer fan”). In Paris, Jack contends with a disorienting language barrier; Marion’s abrasive parents, who delight in dishing about him in front of him; and Marion’s ex-boyfriends, who pop up around every corner. By the end of the first day, the relationship’s fissures begin to rip the two apart as they battle over fidelity, jealousy and their own longevity.
The characters are complicated and the performances are fantastic, though some of the movie’s charm and humor are smothered under the couple’s incompatibility and unpleasant bickering. And for all their talking and walking there are not many earth-shattering or deeply original insights into the complex and treacherous world of long-term coupling. Nevertheless, what the movie lacks in originality it certainly makes up for in delicious comedy.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Have you ever sat uncomfortably close to an arguing couple at a restaurant? At first it’s pretty fascinating listening to two people air out their most intimate issues, but sooner or later you wish they would shut the hell up so you could enjoy your meal.