A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage.A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage.A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage.
What do you get when you mix the influence of French new wave director Jean-Luc Godard, the acting talents of Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, the sturdy direction of Roger Michell and poised writing of Hanif Kureishi? What feels like the unofficial fourth entry to the Before Sunrise independent film trilogy, Le Week-End is a film that could easily be mistaken as the extended look at the lives of Jesse and Celine, years after their fateful meeting in Vienna.
There is something exquisite and magical with films set in Paris, a city that is most commonly known as the 'city of love'. And although Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick Burroughs (Jim Broadbent) choose to revisit Paris after thirty years of marriage and re-live their honeymoon after a long and challenging life together, things don't exactly go how each of them planned. Instead, what surfaces is a film budding with sophistication, film history, and bittersweet revelations that showcase a world of fading lovers and seasoned couples.
Le Week-End is a film set in the fine wine capital of the world. Surrounded by couples holding hands, sharing moments of pure love and wonder, Meg and Nick have some serious marital issues to face, but instead decide to lather over them with the spectacular sights and sounds of the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine and upper-class dining and accommodations. Both highly irritated with each other's approach to life, their children and their relationship as a whole, Meg and Nick use the vacation as a means to reconnect. However, the couple unexpectedly run-into one of Nick's former student's and now renown author Morgan (Jeff Goldblum). Morgan invites Meg and Nick to a dinner party to celebrate the release of Morgan's latest literary achievement. However, Meg and Nick get a lot more than just dinner among friends, and instead their evening turns into a plethora of ultimatums and heartfelt realities.
The grand beauty of Le Week-End lies in the chemistry between Broadbent and Duncan. As two educators in their own sense, Nick a university professor and Meg a teacher, the two honeymooners surely belong to a class of people who are in constant pursuit of life experiences. Sadly, the couple, who have lived their lives catering to the needs of others, can't seem to get rid of their overly mature son, who has found his way back to basement of their home. Torn between what is right and what is necessary, Nick and Meg's parental approach is clearly outlined in the short snippets of calls Nick receives from their son. Thankfully, the heart of Le Week-End is easily found, not in the commentary of parenting, but in the depth of fleeting love, and Duncan and Broadbent share a hate to love for one another that could only be seen in some of the misunderstood, post modern works of European artists almost sixty years prior.
Meg and Nick use their thirty year wedding anniversary as a muse towards re-connecting. Meg, seeing the vacation as a 'last chance at love' for her and her husband, adopts a very go with the flow, careless attitude towards their spending and experiences in the Parisian city. Early on, it is clear that Nick is the money saver and principle earner in the relationship. While Nick sees Paris as an escape from their mundane lives in Birmingham, he also sees it as an opportunity to indulge in a weekend filled with romance and wild, kinky sex with his gorgeous wife–whom he still very much loves and longs for. Meg on the other hand is mostly repulsed with her husband, describing him as "making her blood boil like no body else'. Where Nick replies that that indeed is "the sign of a deep connection". Essentially, life happens. For every good, there is a bad, for every high, there is a low. Le Week-End showcases these highs and lows, few and far between.
While the couple travels together, they are mostly a duo of outsiders with one another. From the moment we meet the rambunctious Meg and patient Nick, we experience a dialogue between two people who are lost in translation, although, some how, both individuals find themselves speaking the same language. The witty screenplay by Kureishi (an author whose novel The Buddha of Suburbia was a novel I read in University) allows the internal thoughts of the characters to be read easily by the viewers and allow the actions of our characters to speak volumes. A city roaming with mimes, colourful characters and whacky personas, Meg and Nick find themselves lusting for the city of Paris to revive their emotions and expectations of one another.
It may not seem it, but aside from the fury and disagreements that Meg and Nick deal with, Le Week-End reminds viewers that "love is the only interesting thing" left in life, especially when you reach the age of our cinematic specimens. The answer may be love, but the factors determining this answer are the tools for the equation. Luckily for Michell, his lead couple is a pair of talented actors who devour their characters, expelling a familiarity of relationship woes between long-term couples and deteriorating lovers. Broadbent offers a special variation of the typical, artistic, working class Englishman. Full of well-upholstered manners, true English nuances and faint hints of British humour, he uses all of these subtle character traits to bring to life the habitual sexual urges of a man who has waited long enough to touch his naturally ageing, beautiful wife.
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- Apr 4, 2014