Written by Cassandra Singh.
College lecturer Nick and school teacher Meg, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, respectfully, are a long-married British couple who, for their 30th wedding anniversary, decide to revisit Paris in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. Finding that the streets of Paris don’t spark the same feelings as when they first visited Paris on their honeymoon, the couple continue to bicker and clash.
Le Week-End is a kind-hearted and insightful look into a relationship that has lasted for quite some time. The film is languidly paced, developing as our two characters discuss life, marriage, kids, and sex. Regarding the film’s focus on long-takes and natural conversation, one could look at this as an almost unofficial sequel of sorts to Richard Lankaster’s Before Sunrise trilogy.
The relationship at the centre of the film feels natural and real. This is a couple that struggle with the connection that forms with years of marriage and the personal identities that inevitably clash with one another. Nick is almost dependent on Meg, following her around and seemingly unable to cope with the idea that she may be wanting more. Meg, a strong-headed individual with aspirations of something “different”, seems to spark the arguments and the debates that ensue, but that may stem from a frustration within herself. It’s a relationship that is cemented quickly and realistically, mostly due to the absolutely wonderful performances by the film’s two leads.
Broadbent and Duncan are masters of their art-from and they deliver natural, sweet and honest performances here. Watching them continuously dip in and out of harmony feels normal, like they’ve been like this for years. As they approach issues with different characteristics, Broadbent and Duncan ensure that we see the love that is still blossoming, even if at times they do not. While there are some painful moments to witness as this couple argue and express their emotions, there are fun and light moments throughout Le Week-End. Moments like the one in which they have to run from a restaurant dinner without paying are quite funny, and Jeff Goldblum’s addition, in a small but great performance, is quite amusing.
Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Changing Lanes) and screenwriter Hanif Kurishi (My Son the Fanatic, Venus) prove to be a formidable team. Michell directs simply and effortlessly, allowing his cast-members to do their thing. Kurishi’s work here is impressive, with lovingly written musings on love and life, engaging dialogue and a wonderful balance of comedy and drama, the screenplay, for the most part, is truly fantastic.
The film won’t appeal to everybody, especially when the trailer manipulates you into expecting something else. The trailer suggests a feel-good journey around Paris with this lovely couple, but the film can be a serious and challenging look at a relationship. Apart from the marketing quibbles, the film leaves you with a not-so-satisfied conclusion. Sure, this is a slice-of-life, but more of a “wrap-up” would have worked wonders.
All in all, Le Week-End is a charming exploration of a marriage teetering on the edge of a breakdown, of the frustrations that culminate with age, and the expectation we accumulate of our significant others. Brilliant performances and an insightful screenplay, not to mention the beautiful sights of Paris, work together to create a sweet and touching dramedy.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10