Le Week-end (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/10/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Hugely entertaining, utterly charming and emotionally engaging British comedy-drama with a superb script by Hanif Kureshi and a pair of terrific performances from Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.

What's it all about?
Directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureshi (Venus), Le Week-End stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as Nick and Meg Burroughs, a British couple who return to Paris for a weekend, many years after their honeymoon, in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage on their 30th anniversary. Upon arrival, Meg rejects their dismal pre-booked hotel and insists they stay in an expensive suite with a view of the Eiffel Tower instead, while Nick worries about the money they're spending, particularly in light of something he hasn't yet told Meg about his university job.

As the couple wander around Paris and eat in expensive restaurants, their conversations range from the state of their sex life and some late-blooming career decisions to the fact that their cash-strapped, still-dependent adult son is planning to move back in with them. Then the couple bump into Nick's old Cambridge buddy Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), who invites them to a dinner party at his house with some fellow artists and academics, but the evening doesn't go quite according to plan.

The Good
Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are perfectly cast as Nick and Meg and their interactions are thoroughly believable, constantly cycling through a wealth of different phases, from resentment to bickering, flirtatiousness, spiteful cruelty, exasperation and brutal honesty, underscored by a deep-seated love and affection that may or may not be enough to keep them together. There's also strong support from Jeff Goldblum as Morgan, whose gregarious personality and seeming success (pregnant younger wife, apartment in Paris, new book coming out) mask some insecurities of his own.

Michell's assured direction and Kureshi's excellent, sharply observant script create an engagingly intimate atmosphere, to the point that it almost feels like we're eavesdropping on a real couple – to that end, the film plays a little like a sequel to Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, 30 years on (Lindsay Duncan even looks a little bit like Julie Delpy). Similarly, the themes and emotions explored by the film are both deeply moving and fascinatingly complex, in that you often find yourself siding with one character then the other; it's also frequently laugh-out-loud funny, such as in the scene where Nick and Meg come up with a solution to their expensive restaurant bill.

The Great
In addition, the film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Nathalie Durand, who makes splendid use of some authentic Paris locations. There's also a superb score by Jeremy Sams and the film has a number of delightful nods (some obvious, some not so much) to French New Wave films to keep the cinephiles on their toes.

Worth seeing?
Sharply observed, emotionally engaging and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Le Week-End is a thoroughly delightful British comedy-drama with a superb script and a pair of terrific performances from Broadbent and Duncan. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Le Week-end (15)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 00:14

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