Susan Granger's review of 'Le Week-End'
Published 3:49 pm, Friday, May 2, 2014
With their longtime marriage in danger, Nick (Jim Broadbent), a Birmingham college philosophy professor, and his schoolteacher wife, Meg (Lindsay Duncan), board the Eurostar from London to Paris, where they honeymooned 30 years ago. Their anniversary celebration sours immediately when Meg discovers Nick has booked them into a shabby, cheap hotel, so she commandeers the credit card and switches them to a posh place with a luxurious suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
As their holiday unfolds, amid visits to bookstores, bistros, museums and Samuel Beckett's grave, it becomes obvious that Nick's being forced into early retirement and it's not clear whether restless Meg's future plans include him, now that their two sons are grown. A chance encounter with Nick's slyly smug, highly successful Cambridge buddy, American ex-pat Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), followed by a dinner party at his Rue de Rivoli flat, is the catalyst that crystalizes the compromises they've both made over the years, as Nick wryly confides in Morgan's neglected, stoner son (Olly Alexander) and Meg turns to Morgan's pregnant, young French wife (Judith Davis). There's recrimination, followed by hints of reconciliation -- along with songs by Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, and an amusing dance sequence that evokes memories of Jean-Luc Godard's "Bande a Part."
This marks the fourth collaboration between screenwriter Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michell ("Venus," "The Mother," "The Buddha of Suburbia"), who capture mid-life melancholy and reflective regret. The two British actors are seasoned pros who are able to clearly -- and endearingly -- delineate the tart complexity of their bickering characters. While Broadbent is familiar to American audiences from "Gangs of New York," "Topsy-Turvy," "Another Year" and "Iris," for which he received an Oscar, elegant Duncan was seen in "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Mansfield Park."
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Le Week-End" is an unsentimental, bittersweet 7, appealing to older, art-house audiences who enjoyed "Quartet" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."