Roger Michell’s Le Week-End stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as Nick and Meg, a sixty-something couple who decide to spend their 30th-anniversary weekend in Paris. To call that a questionable decision is an understatement, given that these two people are dealing with deep anxieties and not a little late-life depression. From the start of their weekend, they are bickering about everything, and it generally goes downhill from there.
Not that there aren’t some positive and touching moments along the way, but the best one can say about this relationship is that it suffers from a serious failure to communicate. Le Week-End also features some very funny moments, especially when Jeff Goldblum comes on the scene as a former student of Nick’s who is enjoying all the success (a new bestselling book) which Nick has always craved but never found. The problem is that the funny and touching moments all seem to have a bitter edge (not in itself a bad thing but it does hinder one’s enjoyment of those scenes).
While I am a huge fan of dialogue-heavy well-acted European films about relationships and the meaning of life (Le Week-End has many similarities to Before Midnight, my favourite film of 2013), this film about the ups and downs of marriage and the struggle of wondering whether one’s life has had any meaning suffers from a few too many scenes that make no sense in the context. Specifically, there are too many conversations between Nick and Meg that just don’t feel believable, as if they haven’t spoken to each other in years and now suddenly decide they should try communicating while in Paris. That kind of writing grates on me in a hurry.
This review seems quite negative, but that’s not because I didn’t enjoy the film (I did) but because I was expecting better. Broadbent and Duncan do a wonderful job, the writing is generally intelligent and full of wit and wisdom, the setting is marvellous and well-filmed and I give Le Week-End a very solid ***. My mug is up but I was hoping for a tastier brew inside.