Le Week-End marks somewhat of a return to smarts for director Roger Michell. After helming two disappointments in a row (the mildly entertaining Morning Glory and the dreary Hyde Park On Hudson), Michell reteams with regular screenwriter and friend Hanif Kureishi for their third feature collaboration and an altogether richer affair. Together, they’ve carved a resonant, heartfelt and adult drama that’s exponentially superior to Michell’s aforementioned missteps.
In celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary, Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) return to their honeymoon destination of Paris. While there, as they bicker, tussle and snipe repeatedly at one another, it becomes increasingly clear that the spark that was once so alive between them has sadly dissipated. It’s only when they find themselves at a party thrown by Nick’s more successful friend Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), however, that they’re forced to confront the issues hanging between them head on.
Anchored by a pair of excellent performances from Broadbent and Duncan, Le Week-End is an unflinchingly honest drama about a couple whose marriage has become weighed down by secrets (Nick recently lost his job due to an incident involving a student, while Meg no longer wants to be a teacher), differences of opinions, financial woes and their differing wants and needs in life. It’s through their conversations, perfectly written by Kureishi, that the audience are made prone to the void between them.
But it’s with the arrival of Nick’s old university friend Morgan (representing everything Nick wanted to be, but failed to achieve), however, that alters the dynamics, with their constant sparring switching from facetious and playful to downright hateful. It’s all brilliantly timed and executed through Kureishi’s screenplay, ensuring that when things reach boiling point during a party thrown at Morgan’s palatial apartment, it’s difficult to watch, yet understandable and natural to the build up that’s come before it.
It’s easy to see throughout that Nick and Meg still love each other, it’s more that they’re no longer sure how to act on that love with all that separates them. Broadbent and Duncan play this superbly, with Broadbent conveying Nick’s dependency and weak-mindedness perfectly, and Duncan succeeding in the more difficult role as the hardened, difficult to break down Meg. Both as difficult as the last in their own ways. Le Week-End is a tough watch at time, but it’s far more in line of how adult drama’s should be: honest and powerful, with a difficult-to-achieve lightness to it that injects warmth and humour in all the right places.
This review was originally posted on HeyUGuys.