Le Week-End (2013) – Review

Directed by Roger Michell
Written by Hanif Kureishi
Starring Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum.
In an effort to re-invigorate their marriage, Nick and Meg return to Paris, the location of their honeymoon, decades before.

“You make my blood boil!”
“It’s the sign of a deep connection.”
I know as well as anyone the feeling of familiarity in a relationship. And if you are to believe what you are told here in Hanif Kureishi’s wonderfully considered script, it is that over time, love does wither unless both parties remain the same and do not attempt to or feel the need for change. The focus of his script is placed firmly on the flagging patience of one of this pair of romantically starved souls and the fear of inevitability of the other. A relentless, nagging, yet unspoken feeling inhabits the pair of them as the march of time continues unabated.
As their lives become their own once more, now that their son has left home, the event of their impending freedom begs answers to questions that had previously been kept tightly caged, although both of these very individual people must have known the time would come when this thorny subject of their respective futures would have to be addressed. And such is the problem where one is satisfied and grateful with and for their lot and the other yearns for a life lived more fully, or at least differently to the vision of the future they feel currently saddled with.
 “I cling to my wife like a shelf of melting ice as I know no-one else would touch me.”

So, as if to attempt one last stab at happiness, Meg agrees to go with Nick to Paris, the location of their original honeymoon. Perhaps this saunter down memory lane will spark something in the pair of them that will remind them why they are still together, even when they don’t actually need to be, should they not want to.

The performances from the main cast are, as you might expect, outstanding. Lindsay Duncan’s Meg is tired of of her aging husband and she continues to harbour the verve of a younger woman, blighted by maybe the inevitable advancing years and gravity’s demands on her body. She still appears to yearn for something she is missing, an excitement maybe that she felt in her younger days that seems rarer the older she gets. She feels that her time as a woman in her prime is evaporating and she is reminded of this every time she looks into the eyes of her still adoring husband.

Broadbent’s Nick, a somewhat bumbling and soon-to-be retired philosophy professor, loves his wife with all of his heart and wants nothing more than to spend the rest of his days with her. It is he that has arranged this trip to Paris, in the hope that this visit to a happier place and time will quell what he can clearly see as the wandering soul of his partner.

Less of a travelogue, more of social comment on aging, Paris doesn’t really get too much of a look in, so to speak, aside from the visits to restaurants that allow the audience to enjoy these two fine actors at work and play. There are admittedly moments of love and joy, but they are intermittent and sporadic, with Kureishi instead choosing to focus his script on the vagaries of a marriage that is on the brink of collapse, albeit in a somewhat idyllic locale. In this respect, the writing is considered, reflective and almost always right on the money. Kureishi’s vision of a relationship in its death throes are supremely authentic and realistic enough at times to even describe the writer as something of a soothsayer.

Delightful and heartbreaking at times, Le Week-End is a footnote to all of those people of a certain age that believe themselves stuck in a rut emotionally. Perhaps the grass really is greener, perhaps not, but the message is that in order to find out, you really have to take a leap of faith, which may cost you more than you might gain.

An excellent piece of cinema that will engage its demographic much more than many films of its type in the past couple of years, due to its incredible script and glowing performances. You can quite easily sit and watch this without noticing the time slip away. Not your normal run of the mill ‘oldies still have spirit’ feel, thankfully, with the tone and soul of the film reminding this reviewer more of Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy than anything else. Charming, sometimes sweet and with bags of charisma and talent throughout, this is a treat, if you have the patience for it.


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