Julie Delpy on Bad Relationships

Actress Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) wrote, directed, and stars in 2 Days in Paris, a magnificently loopy new rom-com about a pair of 30-somethings who try to revive their ebbing relationship with a trip to the city of lights. MC talked to the edgy Gallic auteur, who seeks out the zits on the face of modern coupledom and pops them.

MC: Before Sunset, which you cowrote, looks at how we compromise on our romantic hopes. 2 Days is likewise packed with relationship insight. Would you say you're preoccupied with love?

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JD: I'm obsessed with it. I'm an extremely practical person, and I know that love is abstract — it means nothing. It's a combination of attraction, connection, friendship, hormones. But give something the name "love," and it changes everything and makes it beautiful.

MC: And sometimes ugly — as seems to be the case with your two leads.

JD: Yes. Jack and Marion are played for laughs, but their troubles are familiar. She's not happy, so she's keeping the exes on the back burner. He's avoiding intimacy, putting his camera between them instead of relating directly to her. They're avoiding the deeper level of being with someone.

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MC: And they grapple with this even though they're each at least two decades into their dating careers.

JD: Most people go through a series of shitty relationships in their 20s, and by their 30s, they've figured something out. But there are plenty of us who still get it completely wrong.

MC: And we rarely learn from our mistakes.

JD: But we keep trying. We're like retarded apes.

2 Days in Paris comes out on DVD February 5, 2008.

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