Sunday, March 09, 2014

“Le Week-end” – Movie Review



This weekend in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of “Le Week-end”, a romantic comedy/drama starring Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum


When a married couple celebrates their wedding anniversary with a weekend vacation, they are forced to come to terms with whether or not their marriage should end.


Nick and Meg (Broadbent and Duncan) are a British couple married for a long time.  Maybe too long.  They are at the point where they can’t live with each other nor can they live without each other.  Now experiencing something of an empty nest syndrome, they seem to be able to succeed in doing nothing more than getting on each other’s nerves.  They decide to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary by traveling to Paris to spend a long (and hopefully romantic) weekend.  However, given the fact that Nick has just lost his job as a college professor, the timing of this vacation may have been ill-advised.

Arriving at their small hotel in Paris, Meg is immediately upset about the accommodations and storms out.  With Nick in pursuit, they wind up finding a high-end hotel where they try to check-in, despite the fact that they don’t have a reservation.  Eventually, they secure a suite – one that they can’t afford, especially now that Nick is unemployed.  Nevertheless, they decide to try to make the best of things and enjoy their mini-vacation, but that’s easier said than done – particularly since Meg has fallen out of love with Nick and refuses to be physically intimate with him. 

While out one evening, they run into Morgan (Goldblum), a former colleague of Nick’s.  Morgan, an American, is now living in Paris; he has had a significantly more successful career than Nick, having become a highly-acclaimed best-selling author of many books.  Unable to detect Nick’s jealousy, Morgan invites both of them to a dinner party at his place the following night.  With nothing else better to do – and now short on money because of their extravagant behavior – they decide to attend the party.  But when the party forces them to publicly confront the issues in their relationship, will it serve as a wake-up call or the death knell of their marriage?


There are some incredibly good performances in “Le Week-end”, especially by Lindsay Duncan, but due to a few problems I had with the script, I have some slight reservations about recommending this movie.  First off, the story feels like it takes an unusually long time to get going, despite the fact that the film is only about an hour and a half in length.  The viewer needs to hang in there with the characters for a while to get a better understanding of exactly what is at risk here and why; unless you feel a greater emotional investment in them, you might become impatient waiting for that moment. 

Another script-related problem that made “Le Week-end” a challenge was that the characters weren’t exactly the most sympathetic.  On the one hand, Nick is written as an ineffectual milquetoast loser while Meg merely comes across as vicious, angry and spiteful.  One is left to wonder what these two saw in each other in the first place?  While Meg is seen as the one with all of the strength and power here, she only seems capable of manipulative and temperamental behavior, making rooting for her difficult, at the least. 

So are these shortcomings enough to skip “Le Week-end” altogether?  Probably not.  In addition to the performances, it features some clever directing by Roger Michell.  There is, however, only so much a good director and a talented cast can do to overcome failings with the screenplay, which is probably one more draft away from being something really special.  As it is, “Le Week-end” is nice, but certainly nothing remarkable.  One positive thing is that this is yet another story about romance in the life of mature adults – a demographic that some independent filmmakers apparently feel is still worth tapping.  


Le Week-End (2013) on IMDb 6.5/106.5/10

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