Cinema Review – Le Week-End

Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) escape their life in Birmingham for a weekend in Paris. While there, they almost inadvertently examine their marriage and their lifetime together.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are well matched in this film that almost feels like a stage play. In fact, were it not for the sumptuous backdrop of Paris, this film could be easily compared to Roman Rolanski’s Carnage. As it stands, however, it is easier to compare Le Week-End to Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight trilogy.

Broadbent and Duncan compliment one another incredibly well. As Meg and Nick negotiate the frustrations of their marriage – from their relationship with their son, to the more obvious and pressing fiscal fears – the audience is immediately introduced to characters who think they know one another inside out, and the film never feels the need to overtly explain these people through expositional dialogue or voice over. When we meet them, they just are. It is up to the audience to get to know Nick and Meg better, as they discover more about one another. As their dissatisfactions with one another are revealed, Duncan and Broadbent effortlessly swing from genial and comfortable with one another, to bitter and frustrated. So fast does the pendulum swing, that at times it is hard to keep up. This only serves to underline the fact that these are people who have spent a lifetime together.

Jeff Goldblum turns up in the final act of the film as an old friend whose life in Paris throws Nick and Meg’s marriage into stark relief. Here is a man who has chopped and changed so many times as to be vapid and thin, but still be the ideal that both Nick and Meg strive for. Goldblum gives a magnificent performance, and it seems he has become aware of the image of himself as an actor, and has decided to play up this perception to brilliant effect.

Screenwriter Hanif Kureishi is arguably best known for his Oscar nominated work on My Beautiful Laundrette and, as a writer with a fondness for dialogue, his work is certainly on display here. Kureishi has his characters talking so much throughout the film, that their strongest moment is when they simply say nothing. Sadly, the film is slightly let down by its ending; the implication of the scene is clear, but the framing of this realisation weakens the message.

Director Roger Michell has had a varied career, with films including Notting Hill and Hyde Park on Hudson to his name. Le Week-End certainly takes it’s cues from Linklater’s aforementioned trilogy, but the director plays up the nostalgia angle of the film as the couple return to the city of their honeymoon, which throws the life they have had together into stark relief.

Le Week-End is an examination of the choices made in life, most importantly, the choice to spend your life with one person and the implications of this. Broadbent and Duncan spark well together on screen, and Goldblum gives a fantastic performance as the mirror that Nick and Meg see themselves reflected in. Michell recovers his strength after the underwhelming Hyde Park on Hudson, and screenwriter Kureishi shows off his talent for dialogue. The ending, however, leaves a little to be desired.

Rating: 4/5

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