A romantic weekend away in Paris which was meant to rekindle the romance in their marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be, when Meg and Nick butt heads, live beyond their means and uncharacteristically speak their minds. My review of Le Week-End after the jump.
Some thirty years ago, Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent) had a romantic honeymoon in Paris. Hoping to recapture that magical time, the pair have returned for a romantic weekend. Nick, wanting to recreate their honeymoon experience, booked the same hotel they stayed at thirty years earlier. Big mistake. Unfortunately it’s now a shadow of its former self and Meg flat-out refuses to stay there. The disappointing hotel is a rather ominous beginning for a weekend that has some beautiful highs and some hurtful, ugly lows; both of which are on display at an eventful encounter with Nick’s old friend, the now successful Morgan (Jeff Goldblum). Running out on bills, flirting with strangers, lamenting your broken dreams aloud at a fancy dinner party – this is not the blissful weekend in the City of Lights that they hoped for, but perhaps it’s the crazy, spontaneous and honest weekend they need.
When watching Meg and Nick bicker, I couldn’t help be wonder if this is how Jesse and Celine (from the “Before” trilogy) will end up in 25 years time? Meg and Nick still love each other, but the bitter disappointments, the lost opportunities and the sacrifices often feel [to them] like they weigh far more than they joy they have had together. Le Week-End is very much a tragicomedy – delightfully amusing and sweet at times, incredibly painful and hurtful at others. By returning to where their married life began, the pair have opened up the communication lines on their marriage; something they should have done some time ago. This willingness to share and be bold has some interesting results. A film which dissects and discusses the intimate nature of marriage after a few decades and the kids have grown up isn’t something that comes up often. It’s refreshing to see the pair have such open discussions, even when they end up hurting one another by doing so.
The script here is sharp, with natural dialogue and interactions which have you wholly believing in the pair’s relationship. Broadbent and Duncan have fantastic chemistry, with Broadbent in particular impressing with his dry delivery and wit. Broadbent plays the slightly sad and down-trodden character with just enough charm that you truly feel for him. If every Broadbent performance from now on contained a scene where he drinks and dances around while he listens to his iPod, I’d be extremely happy. Jeff Goldblum is a scene-stealer as the kooky, confident and brash author. His American charm and carefree attitude infuses much fun into what was at times, a very tense film. What is it about Goldblum’s smile which is so infectious?
While the poignant moments certainly offered much food for thought, it was the comedy that worked the best here. How can you not laugh when two beloved older actors are acting more spontaneous and more reckless than the average teenager? Their childish behavior and school-yard giggles were a reminder that you’re only as old as you feel; even if your creaky joints tell you otherwise.
In Le Week-End three fantastic performances, a salient script, tight direction and the beautiful backdrop of Paris, combine to produce and entertaining and at times, touching film. This is a weekend trip worth going along on the ride for.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Roger Michell
Writer(s): Hanif Kureishi
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: February 20 2014; New Zealand: February 27 2014; USA: March 14 2014 (limited)