Wednesday 20 January 2021

Movie Review: Le Week-End (2013)

A drama about the twilight of marriage, Le Week-End is limited in scope and unsettled in tone.

Birmingham-based couple Meg and Nick (Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent) arrive in Paris for a weekend trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. He is a college professor of philosophy and she is a teacher, both are approaching retirement and money is tight. The tension between them is significant, and Meg is infuriated by the cheap room Nick booked. She instead decides to splurge and checks them into a suite at an expensive hotel.

The passion has seeped out of the marriage, Meg and Nick no longer have sex, and she does not even want him touching her. They bicker and fight but also have some fun as they enjoy the sights and restaurants, sometimes skipping out on paying the check. With Meg's resentment rising, the dynamics of the weekend are altered by a chance meeting with Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), Nick's friend from their Cambridge days and now a celebrated author.

Featuring a tortured central relationship oscillating between cold and frigid with an abundance of awkwardness and just occasional hints of playfulness, Le Week-End offers little to attract. Director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi lean heavily on the performances of Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent, but forget to create characters worth caring about. Meg displays a particularly acidic brand of meanness, still embracing her rage from a 15-year-old straying incident. Instead of emerging as a couple worth rooting for, this bickering pair is best served by having their gasping union shot behind the shed.

The introduction of Morgan is late in coming, and intended as a dual jolt: one class behind Nick at Cambridge, Morgan is now a successful author surrounded by beautiful people in a fancy Parisian apartment, while Nick is fading into a tainted retirement in Birmingham. And maybe to make matters worse, Morgan treats Nick as his inspiration, which reinforces Nick's insecurities and supports Meg's contention that Nick never fulfilled his potential.

The misery ends with a couple of speeches about failure and love, neither very convincing and both filed under too little and too late. Le Week-End was intended to celebrate an anniversary, but should instead denote the necessary demise of a tiresome marriage.

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