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Review: Le Week-End

Le Week-End is more concerned with its characters' bumpy journey than their desirable destination. Katie Barlow reviews.

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Director: Roger Michell
Rating:


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Le Week-End has a constant sense of impending disaster. A couple's weekend anniversary break in Paris doesn't get off to the best of starts, with a fight on the Eurostar. Over the course of the weekend, things go downhill as they continue to argue over the Euros (they don't have enough), the hotel room (it's "too beige") and her 'affair' (she isn't having one).

However, what makes the film is the very fact that the expected catastrophe never occurs: the viewer instead begins to realise that amongst this dysfunction and chaos there is a relationship worth saving.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are outstanding as Nick and Meg, a just-over-middle-aged couple from Birmingham who return to their honeymoon destination to celebrate their 30th anniversary. While some stunning views of Paris are offered, it remains clear that the central focus is on the characters, and not the city. But it does feel claustrophobic that we see every detail of their relationship.

In the best performance of the film Jeff Goldblum enters as the self-obsessed academic Morgan, which comes as a slight relief. Despite being Cambridge contemporaries, Morgan has become everything Nick isn't: successful, wealthy and admired, with a beautiful, new (and pregnant) wife. At a dinner party scene in Morgan's swanky apartment these contrasts become bluntly apparent. This becomes the key scene of the film, where the couple's relationship is granted a miraculous recovery before falling apart, despite Nick declaring to a host of guests his true feelings.

While Le Week-End portrays something extraordinary: the relationship of an older couple without turning to tragedy, it is in fact the youthfulness of the pair which is remembered. The comedy is successful because it is subtle and often bittersweet. But ultimately, it is an absorbing portrait of a long marriage, showing that despite life's disappointments and failures a relationship really can endure.

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