Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum
By Émer O’Toole
Roger Michell’s Le Week-End dwells on a difficult issue without descending into sentimentality or despair. The third collaboration between Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi, of Notting Hill fame, the film was bound to be a success from the outset.
Le Week-End follows the story of a middle-aged English couple who decide to rekindle their long-failed marriage on a romantic anniversary trip to Paris. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play the charming Nick and Mag. She’s a biology teacher, wanting more excitement from life than their marriage has given her, while he’s a recently fired philosophy lecturer with self-esteem issues.
The couple’s return to Paris stems out of a sense of obligation, to see how it has changed since their last visit but, inevitably, they are the ones who have changed. As a result, we begin to question whether it is love or habit that has kept them together for thirty years. They irritate each other endlessly from arguing over who should keep the euros to Nick’s failed romantic gesture in booking them a hotel which has changed beyond recognition since their last visit. Examining the room, Mag complains, “It’s…uh…beige” and she quickly whisks them off to a ridiculously expensive but more upmarket hotel. While the camera pans over beautiful shots of Parisian scenery, we get the impression that this is where their marriage has come to rot.
One night in Paris, the couple bump into Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a well-off American writer and an old friend of Nick’s. Morgan has everything Nick could wish for – an attractive French wife, money, success and status – but still seems envious of their marriage. This leads to Nick making a self-depreciating and somewhat awkward speech at Morgan’s dinner party, revealing that Michell and Kureishi’s characters are not only witty and honest but also have an underlying vulnerability.
The romantic drama is bound to spark comparisons to the Before Sunset trilogy due to the extensive amount of dialogue. It is a surprisingly honest tale of a crumbling marriage but humorous moments, such as when they run away instead of paying their bill in an expensive seafood restaurant, stop it from turning into a miserable affair.
The film climaxes on the ideas of love, both sacred and cruel and its ability to transform and reinvent, and our need to hold onto hope in unfortunate circumstances.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);