MRR Review: "Le Week-End"

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A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage.
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Rating: R
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Directed by: Roger Michell
Genre: Comedy / Drama

Although Hollywood has turned out countless romantic comedies celebrating young, passionate love, "Le Week-End" chooses a different approach. This film takes a hard, realistic look at a marriage that has survived decades of anger, betrayal and disappointment along with romance and passion. Nick, a philosophy professor on the verge of losing his job, takes his wife Meg to Paris to rekindle their relationship as they celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Gritty and surprisingly genuine, this one-of-a-kind film features the perfect blend of humor, drama and romance.

Nick Burrows (Jim Broadbent) and his wife Meg (Lindsay Duncan) are two teachers from Birmingham whose marriage is filled with bickering and resentment, especially on Meg's part. Nick and Meg are on the Eurostar train on their way to Paris, surrounded by young couples who are madly in love. Nick has convinced Meg to take a trip with him to the city where they spent their honeymoon, but it is clear that Meg is less than pleased with the situation. Their ride to Paris is filled with non-stop bickering about inconsequential problems, and things do not get much better when they arrive. As they approach the hotel that Nick has booked, they realize that the less-than-glamorous lodging was a poor choice.

Meg feels as if she has been short-changed by Nick once again. She convinces her husband to take her to a luxurious hotel they can barely afford. Despite the lavish hotel and champagne, the couple's constant fighting and disagreements continue to drive a wedge in their relationship. Nick explains to Meg that he may lose his job due to some careless words he said to a student, the couple argues about their good-for-nothing son, and Meg explains to Nick that she may want to spend her retirement years without him. Their cutting remarks continue as they eat a luxurious meal at a pricey restaurant, but upon seeing the bill, the two devise a scheme to skip out. After their successful escape, they kiss passionately, giving viewers hope for their marriage.

Nick soon runs into an old college friend, the now-successful author Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), who invites the couple to his place for a party. When Meg encounters Morgan and his young wife in their beautiful living quarters, she once again feels cheated by life and love. As their difficulties reach a boiling point, Nick and Meg must work hard to salvage their marriage and rekindle their love.

"Le Week-End" is, at first glance, a romantic comedy about love toward the latter part of life. However, it is soon obvious to viewers that the film focuses more on the gradual deterioration of the couple's marriage than on the spark of love that still remains. This is evident in the couple's constant bickering and their general attitude towards each other. It is clear that Nick is disillusioned, depressed and a little bit desperate, genuinely desiring Meg's love and constant presence. Meg, on the other hand, feels as if she could have done better and is becoming increasingly annoyed with the man she married. She delivers sharp remarks and constantly refuses his sexual advances. At the same time, she craves for excitement, fine things and a life of luxury.

The dialog is realistic and cutting, never once feeling forced or cheesy. After 30 years of marriage, it is clear that these two sour lovebirds know just what to say to make the other snap. Their arguments and exchanges never contradict their personalities, nor do they peg Nick or Meg into stereotypes. This creates a realistic atmosphere that draws viewers into the film, making them feel as if they might know the characters in real life.

The performances by both Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are commendable. Broadbent creates a completely believable underachieving professor in the form of Nick, and Duncan is both visually stunning and constantly spirited in her performance. The chemistry between the two is unmistakable despite their passive aggression and their obvious differences, carrying the film through the more slow-moving sections of the plot. Jeff Goldblum also gives a great performance as Morgan, maintaining a believable tone and attitude.

"Le Week-End" is an unexpected film that makes viewers laugh but also leaves them with a touch of heartache and perhaps a bitter taste in their mouths as they exit the theater. Director Roger Michell takes a unique idea and brings it to life in a way that draws viewers into the story. Boasting talented actors, an interesting plot and realistic dialog, "Le Week-End" is a bittersweet love story that audiences do not want to miss.

Rating: 3 out of 5