Le Week-End – DVD In stores July 29th
Written by Hanif Kureishi
Directed by Roger Michell
Starring Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum
Runtime 93 minutes
The tension’s thick between Meg and Nick as their taxi carries them into Paris. They’ve come from their suburban English home for a weekend getaway which is apparently sorely needed. Meg looks like she’s ready to leap out of the car and run away, as Nick tries in a milquetoast way to make her smile. Later, she declares their hotel room “too beige” and flies off in a fit of rage, while he takes his frustrations out on a concierge who can’t give them a room of a different colour.
Once ensconced in another, very expensive hotel she says she’s in the mood for fun, that she has “redesigned her body” to which he replies “Who’s going to see it?” He tries to make up for his gaffe by asking to touch her to which she replies “What for?” According to him, her vagina has been closed for fifteen years; she counters by telling him when he touches her it feels like she’s being arrested.
The arguments begin and she beats him to a pulp emotionally and even knocks to the ground in the street and stands over him laughing. She wants to leave him, sell the house, find a lover and start all over again, have a “new life”. He accuses her of having an affair with their computer repair guy, then he admits he’s broke and has lost his job at the university for a remark he made to a female student.
They go out for air and run into Nick’s former protégé Morgan, played by Jeff Goldblum. He’s in fine form as a big talking, new young wife-having, and overbearing poseur. He invites them to a party to meet his arm candy and some local writers and artists. They half-heartedly go and it’s a disaster. Meg and Nick’s secrets come tumbling out in an incredibly satisfying, dramatic and sadly comedic dinner table scene. Their union is under threat and he’s clinging like a puppy to its disdainful mother. When we learn what’s eating them, their actions seem completely authentic.
Duncan’s performance is searing, brilliantly sharp and edgy and leavened with an ever so slight ray of occasional warmth. She has created an unforgettable, flinty character we might dislike without Duncan’s skill. Broadbent is at the top of his game, he’s that good. His poor old other half is a miracle of restraint and connection and a practised actor’s understanding of human nature. He may be a repressed milquetoast but he totally rocks out to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” for a moment alone and it’s blissful.
A terrific jazz score moves the film along aided in no small part by the beautiful heart of Paris. The film’s uncomfortable emotional tone is well balanced and heightened by the majestic architecture and skies of the city, a city they can’t truly enjoy until its almost too late.