Le Weekend

April 21, 2014

in Movies

Film (2013)

Directed by Roger Michell
Screenplay by Hanif Kureishi

Music by Jeremy Sams; Cinematography by Nathalie Durand; Film Editing by Kristina Hetherington

With Lindsay Duncan (Meg), Jim Broadbent (Nick), Jeff Goldblum (Morgan), Olly Alexander (Michael)

Jim Broadbent as Nick, Lindsay Duncan as Meg in 'Le Weekend'

Jim Broadbent as Nick
Lindsay Duncan as Meg
in “Le Weekend”
Courtesy of Music Box Films

A well-intentioned take on a British couple well into middle age on a Parisian fling, seasoned with strong doses of both realism and flights of fancy which sometimes mix and sometimes don’t.

They have been together for many years and all the expected themes are evident: failures of relationship, sexuality, disappointments and suspicions, moments of passion, long bouts of alienation and despair and a general sense of rootlessness. They are in Paris for their thirtieth anniversary and gradually all gets let loose into the air. What seemed like mores easily fall off the edge and wildness overtakes, and perhaps, rejuvenates, this ailing pair.

There is something generally fun and likeable about this film. It is a well-meaning take on the issues of marriage in the doldrums, but its thematic solution is more like a Bonnie and Clyde escapade than like a realistic take on the problems of age. There is something entertaining about that, but, in the end, it comes off as too far flung, too whimsical, too unlikely, to really have an impact.

Jim Broadbent (Nick) is a delightful actor who can convey insecurity and frumpiness to a T and he makes apparent accomplishment cum self-loathing into a high art. Lindsay Duncan’s Meg has a fragile elegance about her that makes her appealing, but there is also something in the character that she plays that seems a bit random and off the wall and not quite ready to deal with the problems of a long marriage.

Of course, Parisian magic solves everything, doesn’t it? Take an ailing marriage and put it in another city and that magic disappears. But Paris means romance, indulgence, passion, whimsy, arbitrariness. And, in this film, it also apparently means walking out of restaurants without paying. This, I guess, is supposed to be fun and charming, but it just seems like a stupid narrative ploy that has nothing to do with anything substantive about the relationship.

Hanif Kureishi, who wrote the screenplay, generates the aura of a long-lived relationship, but makes narrative choices that create comic climaxes rather than developing a more textured treatment of the enduring challenges and potential resolutions. Giving this couple a shot in Paris with a credit card and a vacationing sense of ethics seems to be his ploy, which works well as a caper, but not all that well as a character study.

Jeff Goldblum as Morgan in 'Le Weekend'

Jeff Goldblum as Morgan
in “Le Weekend”
Courtesy of Music Box Films

Jeff Goldblum (Morgan) plays a successful academic, once a protégé of Nick’s, now residing in Paris. Goldblum gives Morgan an appropriately glib and carefree sheen, the perfect counterexample to Nick’s frumpy and distressed one.

One of the great scenes in the film involves Michael (Olly Alexander), Morgan’s son, and his interaction with Nick. When, after Morgan gives a dinner speech honoring Nick and Nick responds with a desperately honest, bleakly existential, speech, Michael is awestruck and immediately drawn into Nick’s orbit. It’s a lovely and successful moment in a film which otherwise tries very hard to generate some of the same spontaneity of feeling in the portrayed marriage with mixed results.

Jim Broadbent as Nick, Lindsay Duncan as Meg in 'Le Weekend'

Jim Broadbent as Nick
Lindsay Duncan as Meg
in “Le Weekend”
Courtesy of Music Box Films

– BADMan

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