Revisiting Paris for the first time since their honeymoon, a long-married British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) run into an old colleague (Jeff Goldblum) and discover a new vision of what life and marriage might be, in the new film from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette).
Movies have lately turned their attention to the romantic lives of older people, but often do so in an "isn't that charming" manner that verges on condescending. Bracing, prickly, and full of passion, Le Week-end's characters shed the cozy comfort of retiree rom-coms for an altogether more interesting love story.
Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent) have been together forever. For their thirtieth wedding anniversary, they've chosen to return to Paris, where they honeymooned. It's not long before the city of light begins reflecting the couple's conflicts right back at them.
Rejecting their first, depressingly beige, hotel for an impossibly expensive choice, Meg then begins rejecting her husband. "Can I touch you?" he asks, tentatively. "What for?" she snaps. Although they would never stoop to acting them out physically, this relationship has emotional contours the Marquis de Sade could embrace. When Meg and Nick run into their insufferably successful old friend, played with pure delight by Jeff Goldblum, their squabbles rise to a register that's both emotionally rich and very funny.
By turns sharply comic and deadly serious,
Le Week-end is full of surprises. The
dialogue has both the heart and the crackle
of Richard Linklater's Before… series, delving
deep into the tensions that shape this
couple's relationship while holding nothing
back. Director Roger Michell (Notting
Hill, Hyde Park on Hudson) has shown
us the pleasures of complicated romance
before, but never has his filmmaking felt
freer. From the charged scenes at the hotel,
to Goldblum's delicious intervention, to a
clever nod to Jean-Luc Godard at the end,
this is one of the most enjoyable love stories
we've seen all year.