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Le Week-end

D: Roger Michell / 93m

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander

Nick (Broadbent) and Meg (Duncan) are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary with a weekend in Paris, returning to where they had their honeymoon. It soon becomes clear that all is not well with their marriage, and that their relationship is foundering: they’ve lost any intimacy they once had, and Nick has recently lost his job as a teacher. As well, there are accusations of adultery, emotional abuse and repeated examples of each other’s despair at how things have gone so wrong. Nick is physically needy, while Meg is emotionally needy; both characters seem unwilling or unable to see beyond their own misgivings or regrets and rekindle the love they once had. This makes for a chilly romance between the pair who can imitate the love they once felt for each other, but have no idea how to resolve the issues they have. A chance encounter with one of Nick’s old college pals (Goldblum) leads to a dinner party invite and the confrontation of feelings they have been avoiding for so long.

Le Week-end - scene

Working from a script by Hanif Kureishi, director Michell has fashioned a creaking treatise on faded love and what it means to be aware of that loss within a failing relationship. Broadbent and Duncan are saddled with some awful, trite dialogue that wants to be meaningful but falls far short of the mark. At the dinner party, Nick makes a dreadful speech outlining his feelings that is so out-of-place and awkward it would only appear in a movie where the characters’ main purpose is to navel gaze repeatedly. Why movie makers continue to believe the dinner party confession is still a viable set piece in this day and age is incredible. On the plus side, Paris is as lovely as expected (there’s a particularly impressive view of the Eiffel Tower from Nick and Meg’s hotel room balcony), and Goldblum is a welcome antidote to the verbal posturings inflicted on the audience by his senior co-stars. By the movie’s end – itself feeling truncated and leaving things unresolved – it’s hard to care if Nick and Meg manage to sort things out or not. Still, it’s good to see Broadbent and Duncan in action – however hampered they are by the script – and at a trim 93 minutes, the movie doesn’t outstay its welcome. What would be interesting however, is this movie given a Before Sunset/Sunrise/Midnight make over; what Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy could make of this idea… now that would be interesting.

Rating: 5/10 – a sadly under-performing movie, Le Week-end strives to be profound in its own small way, but merely ends up sounding arch; growing old is bad enough without the possibility of ending up like Nick and Meg.

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