REVIEW: “Le Week-End”

Le_week-end Poster“Le Week-End” was one of my more eagerly anticipated films of the 2014 Spring movie season. My absolute adoration for the city of Paris combined with the intriguing story of a conflicted older couple was enough to get me onboard. This British drama marks the fourth collaboration between director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi. While I’m not familiar with their other collaborative works, there are undeniable signs of quality and brilliance in “Le Week-End” even though the final product isn’t as captivating as I had hoped.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play Nick and Meg Burrows. In light of their 30th wedding anniversary, the couple takes off to Paris, France – the place of their honeymoon. It doesn’t take long for us to see that their marriage is on life support and Nick especially hopes this trip will resuscitate it. Years of pent-up emotion and complex feelings boil to the surface and Nick and Meg try to navigate the waves the best way they know how.

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“Le Week-End” isn’t a formulaic run-of-the-mill couples drama. It has a very grounded sensibility and its approach to storytelling is unique. Much like the struggling relationship it depicts, “Le Week-End” features a number of mood shifts and knotty emotional moments. There is a stinging realism to Nick and Meg’s relationship that separates the film from most other movies of this type. The movie also moves at a fairly slow pace and there are moments where nothing much happens. That’s not always a problem but there are times where it works against the picture.

I can certainly appreciate the deliberate pace and the occasional idling that we get throughout the film. On the other hand, there were times when I really wanted the movie to kick into another gear. The very thing that sets it apart from other movies of this type is the same thing that kept me from truly loving the film. I also left with a number of questions that the ending never answered or hinted at. It’s not that it is a terrible ending, but I can’t say it was all that satisfying.

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I can say that Broadbent and Duncan were extraordinary. Both are seasoned performers and their chemistry is spot-on. The way they develop their characters and expose their flaws and frustrations is nearly flawless. Even when the script shortchanges them (and there are a small handful of weird moments), Broadbent and Duncan rise above the material. I also really liked seeing Jeff Goldblum appear as an old acquaintance of Nick’s. He is a fine actor who I believe always adds good moments to a film.

While “Le Week-End” may not be the brilliant film I was hoping for, it’s still an easy movie to recommend. It makes pretty good use of one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the story of Nick and Meg is certainly an interesting one. But I really hoped that Michell would pull more from this magical setting and that Kureishi would give his performers more fluid material. But even these issues can be overlooked to a degree. “Le Week-End” strives to give us a movie that bucks convention and it puts two truly strong performances in front of us. Those are things I can certainly appreciate.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

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17 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Le Week-End”

  1. Have had the opportunity to go to a press screening of this, but did not have the time to go. Looks like a fun movie to watch.

    I remember someone making the remark looking at those pictures that it was of a future installment of the “Before…” trilogy. They do look similar to Jesse and Celine 😉

    • That’s very interesting. I didn’t really think about that. Now that you mention it I can see some of the similarities although this one does go more for dramatic effect. It doesn’t always work but as a whole it’s a good film.

    • Broadbent is really good, isn’t he? I think the ingredients were here for a truly great movie. That said, we still get a really good one and it’s worth checking out my friend.

  2. Nice review Keith. Has this just come out in the US? I remember it being in cinemas here last year and I thought about it but didn’t bother in the end. I’ll try and catch it as I’m intrigued by what you say about the performances. Completely agree about Goldblum by the way!

    • Yes sir, it has just now opened in select theaters around the states. I have had my eye on it for a while. It really appealed to me. It wasn’t quite as good as I hoped but it’s still very entertaining and it features such great performances.

  3. I like Jim Broadbent but the last indie drama I saw him in, Another Year, bored me to tears. I’m curious about this one as I also like Lindsay Duncan, so I might rent it but w/ neutral expectation.

    • Oh I loved Another Year. I thought it was a hoot. It definitely was slow and had a lot of chatting, but I loved watching this older couple and how their steady lives influenced all the others around them.

  4. Broadbent and Duncan really do create a lovely chemistry between these two that makes it feel like they truly have been married forever and are getting way tired of it. Because of them and what they do together, the movie totally works. Good review.

  5. Nice review, Keith. I’m a fan of all three actors and an above-average film is perfect for home viewing when I’m in between projects and writing. Not mention, it’s filmed in Paris 🙂

  6. Strong review Keith. Just saw this about a week ago actually and still haven’t been able to post up my analysis of it. I’m torn between thinking it was too-standoff-ish and being a perfect film. I’m really not sure what it is.

    I do have to say, though. I’m very curious about the disparity between the Critic and Audience ratings on RT. It’s really bizarre. If anything, i would have thought it would be the other way around.

    • I noticed that as well. To a degree the critics score didn’t surprise me. I did expect a better reaction from audiences. On the other hand the film does stay away from many of the standard audience-pleasing gimmicks. That may have hurt it with some viewers.

  7. Pingback: » Movie Review – And When Did You Last See Your Father? Fernby Films

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