And if every couple was as sharp, biting and witty as Meg and Nick in “Le
Week-End,” there would be no excuse for that. Two aging
Brits on a last-ditch weekend trek to Paris to save their marriage, they may be
the most quotable feuding couple this side of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia
“People don’t change.”
“They do. They can get worse.”
He (Oscar winner Jim Broadbent) is desperate to make one last
throw of the dice to save them as a couple. Nick is wrapped up “in the physical
dread of desertion.” And she (Lindsay Duncan of “About Time” and “Alice in
Wonderland”) is the bored wife, the one desperate to do the deserting.
“It’s ME I want more of!”
They’re in the City of Light, but he’s fretting over the cost of everything.
And she’s willing to bail out of a budget hotel room over the fact that there’s
no view and the walls are beige. No sense budgeting for dinner, either.
“It’s the end of the world. I want to go down gulping oysters!”
The writer and director of Peter O’Toole’s
last good film, “Venus,” re-team here for a smart, snappy and deeply sad survey
of a doomed marriage, a needy, clinging man and a wife who is by turns cruel,
playful, dismissive — and needy herself.
“What gorgeous hell is this?” she asks at one point.
“They’re French. I’m sure their lives are awful, too.”
Nick and Meg are not new to Paris. They know which museums to hit, which
meals have delighted them, which walks will restore their souls. And nothing is
working. Meg wants thrills, novelty, adventure.
“You like being steady — too steady.”
“I love you, Meg. Take that seriously.”
Director Roger Michell and screenwriter films this as a spirited, compact two-hander,
basically a stage play with Paris scenery as its setting. Their insights on a
marriage that cannot hit its reset button, the yearning escapism of vacation
magnified by what this weekend will mean to their couple’s future, is amusing
and on the money.Nick and Meg cannot live in the past, cannot escape their present (phone
calls from a mooch of a son interrupt some moments), cannot reconcile the fact
that she’s made her mind up to move on unless they can find that one memory, or
create one new one, to save them.
And then Nick’s old college chum shows up, and since he’s played by the
bubbly, gregarious and all-embracing Jeff Goldblum, he’s sure to either re-ignite the sparks of their love or set off the bomb that
tears them apart once and for all.
“Aren’t you enjoying the party?”
“I’m not sure enjoyment’s my thing.”
“Le Week-End” features another helping of reliably brittle and vulnerable
work from Broadbent (“Iris,” “The Iron Lady”) and gives
Duncan the chance to show a mercurial side in what must be her best big screen
role ever. And sure, Goldblum is always best at being Jeff Goldblum, and his
oily/silky charm tends to unbalance the neat, brittle little tragedy we’re
But “Le Week-End” needs that and benefits from his breezy third act
appearance. If ever a troubled couple needed a whirlwind distraction from all
their domestic woes, it is Meg and Nick.
MPAA Rating:R for language and some sexual content
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum
Credits: Directed by Roger Michell, written by Hanif Kureishi.
A Music Box release.
Running time: 1:33