×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Le Week-End’

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in this bittersweet, charming yet often very thorny comedy-drama.

With:

Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Judith Davis. (English, French dialogue)

The fourth feature collaboration between director Roger Michell and scenarist Hanif Kureishi continues their explorations of love in later life — and love of veteran British actors. “Le Week-End” stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as a sixtysomething academic duo who celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary by returning to the site of their honeymoon; Paris proves as romantic as ever, but this trip reveals both the deep bonds and the equally deep fissures in their relationship. Bittersweet, charming yet often very thorny, this display of keenly intelligent craftsmanship on all levels should appeal to the same mature audiences that embraced the creators’ 2006 “Venus.” Music Box plans a limited U.S. theatrical launch in February.

Things start on an off note — hardly the last — as Meg Burrows (Duncan), a woman of very definite opinions, summarily rejects the hotel they’ve booked. Assessing their room, she grumbles, “It’s … uh … beige,” as if that were a well-known universal violation of good taste. After a costly sight-seeing cab ride to buck up her spirits, she and hubby Nick (Broadbent) check into a doubtless wildly expensive but duly superior establishment and set about realizing their perfect City of Love weekend.

But love is hardly the only emotion between them. Nick tries to resuscitate their sex life in vain; though not averse to occasional, casual physical affection, Meg can turn cross and reject his touch by snapping, “It’s not love — it’s like being arrested.” He’s devoted enough to try overcoming almost any rejection, while she is innately dissatisfied, mercurial, restless. “You can’t not love and hate the same person, usually within the space of five minutes” she says, “you” being very much a statement of self.

Although the two have reached what should be a comfortable near-retirement, things are unstable back home. A hapless grown son has just moved out with his wife and child, yet is already begging to be taken in again, something Meg adamantly opposes. Nick has bad news: Flippant advice he gave a student prompted her to file a formal complaint, and now he’s being forced into early retirement from his university professorship. Meg is sick of her own teaching job, and fancies drastic life changes as financially whimsical as her attitude toward credit-card charges in Paree. Nonetheless, they manage to enjoy the city and each other enormously at times, even when running out on an astronomical restaurant bill or visiting Samuel Beckett’s grave.

A chance encounter reunites Nick with American expat Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a writer who’s had all the fame, fortune and adventure that have eluded his former Cambridge classmate. The film reaches its emotional crescendo during a dinner-party sequence in which both leads have telling encounters with other guests — notably Nick’s with the host’s neglected son (Olly Alexander) from an abandoned first marriage, while secretly in the midst of possibly their most serious argument ever. Yet the public nadir they reach might just restore the Burrowses to each others’ good graces.

British stage, tube and film luminaries Duncan and Broadbent fully flesh out characters as familiar as they are complicated, while Goldblum gooses them (and the movie) with a delightful sketch of generous yet completely self-absorbed joie de vivre. A long way from the flashiness of such name-making early exercises as “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid,” Kureishi’s writing is insightful and precise here, though not immune to the occasional, useful shock tactic.

Michell handles all elements with restraint and panache, capturing some of Paris’ magic without resorting to tourist snaps amid a solid design/tech package. Highlighted soundtrack choices include a couple repeatedly heard cuts from English folkie icon Nick Drake.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Le Week-End'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 6, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production:

(U.K.) A Music Box Films (in U.S.) release of a Film4, BFI and Curzon Film World presentation in association with Le Bureau of a Free Range Films production. (International sales: Embankment Films, London.) Produced by Kevin Loader. Executive producers, Sue Bruce Smith, Philip Knatchbull, Louisa Dent.

Crew:

Directed by Roger Michell. Screenplay, Hanif Kureishi. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), editor, Kristina Hetheringson; music, Jeremy Sams; production designer, Emmanuelle Duplay; sound (Dolby Digital), Martin Beresford; sound designer, Denny Hambrook; re-recording mixer, Paul Cotterell; assistant director, Valerie Aragues.

With:

Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Judith Davis. (English, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Pom Klementieff poses at the launch

    Pom Klementieff Lands New Role in Next 'Mission: Impossible' Film

    “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Pom Klementieff is set to join the latest installment of Paramount and Skydance’s “Mission: Impossible,” joining Tom Cruise, who is reprising his role of Ethan Hunt. Christopher McQuarrie announced the news on Instagram on Tuesday, and is returning to write and direct the seventh and eighth movies, which will be [...]

  • Fede Alvarez

    'Don't Breathe' Director Fede Alvarez Developing White House Horror Movie With Legendary

    “Don’t Breathe” director-producer Fede Alvarez is teaming with Legendary Pictures for an untitled White House horror movie. The project, described as “The Shining” set in the White House, will be directed by Alvarez from a script by Joe Epstein and produced by Alvarez’s Bad Hombre Films. Legendary announced the horror movie Tuesday as part of [...]

  • Awkwafina Actors on Actors

    How 'The Farewell' Changed Awkwafina's Understanding of Grief and Mercy

    Awkwafina’s film “The Farewell” explores the Chinese tradition of not disclosing terminal illnesses to elderly family members. The actor discussed her evolving thought process on the subject matter with Taron Egerton (“Rocketman”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Egerton began the interview by asking Awkwafina about her personal opinion of the film’s [...]

  • Kristen Bell and idina menzel Walk

    Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel Took Parallel Paths to Hollywood

    Once upon a time in New York City, two young talents set off on a near-impossible quest: a successful Broadway career. Since childhood, Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell had focused on their quest with a ferocious drive — and learned to avoid the trolls. In Long Island, Menzel, the daughter of a pajama salesman, spent [...]

  • Catherine Deneuve'Joker' premiere, 76th Venice Film

    Catherine Deneuve Is 'Feeling Fine' but Still Recuperating From Recent Stroke

    Nearly two weeks after suffering a stroke reported as minor, French screen icon Catherine Deneuve is “feeling fine” but still recuperating in a Paris hospital, her publicist said Tuesday. The 76-year-old actress suffered what her family called a “very limited” ischemic stroke – an incident caused by reduced blood flow to the brain – on [...]

  • Cats Movie

    'Cats' New Trailer Hits, Internet Sharpens Claws

    Universal Pictures debuted the full length trailer for “Cats” Tuesday, giving viewers another look at “digital fur technology” and attempting to answer what Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is actually about. “Tonight is a magical night,” Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy narrates in the new footage, “where I choose the cat that deserves a new life,” After [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content