Despite its faults, and there were many, I enjoyed Le Week-End, Roger Michell’s story of a late middle-aged couple’s weekend in Paris attempting to shore up their deteriorating marriage, starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. I laughed a bit, stayed with the plot - improbable as it was in some parts - and got involved with the characters, although not always positively. Mostly, I enjoyed the wonderful trip through Paris, even if it was on an emotional mini-coaster that careened slowly from tender love to emotional torture.
Broadbent and Duncan, two of England’s top actors, pulled off all too realistically the roles of as Meg and Nick, the grumpy couple from Birmingham, worn out in a 30-year marriage in which each of them has secretly failed to achieve the dreams they started out with. Unfortunately, the result is that they create two characters who are not very likeable. However, they are engaging enough to keep the audience watching and hoping the occasional glimmer of romance in a random scene will continue, although usually it gets drowned in yet another attempt to peel off each other’s faces with the razor-sharp words that only spouses know how to use.
Fortunately, they do it with copious amounts of Duncan’s luminescent beauty and Broadbent’s sly humor on the screen. Just when you thought you had seen enough, they crack you up and make you hope they will stop slicing each other up and kiss or hug or have sex or something. Once in a while they do.
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However the humor and the beauty eventually run out along with the couple’s money –which they have been spending at a prodigious amount on one of Paris’s most expensive hotel suites – and their possibilities and the film head straight down.
Then Jeff Goldblum shows up, there is a dinner party, a huge emotional scene (several, actually), and things go sideways and then up. Goldblum is a kind of deus ex machina who accidently saves the couple, and the film, but once you get past that, you laugh a little, cry a little and soak in Paris while the marriage mends, sort of.
At worst you could call Le Week-End a messy, uneven, too long screenplay with a great cast, good acting, and wonderful location that somehow manages to turn emotional torture into to a good date movie for baby boomers. At best you could call Le Week-End a good date movie for baby boomers.