28 September 2014 | Buddy-51
A mature look at mature love
Usually when movies use Paris as a romantic backdrop, it's a young couple who gets to occupy the foreground. Not so with "Le Week-End," a tale of two aging tourists - he a professor of philosophy, she a teacher - who've chosen to "celebrate" their 30th anniversary in (where else? ) the City of Lights.
Like many couples who have been together for a long time, Nick and Meg Burroughs often seem to have more things that are driving them apart than bringing them together. Not only have they grown tired of each other's all-too-predictable habits and quirks, but Meg, in particular, feels that now, with the kids grown and gone, it may be time for the two of them to move on and to spend what little time they have left getting to know themselves as individuals rather than as a couple.
Because the screenplay by Hanif Kureishi is clearly focused on an older couple, the film captures the paradox that exists at the core of lasting romantic love: that the very same predictable patterns and dull routines that, over time, work to deaden love are also what enhance intimacy and bind us inexorably to one another over the long haul.
Though Meg and Nick are still clearly sexual beings, even that fact has caused some tension and division between them, namely in an affair Nick had awhile back and for which he is perpetually atoning. Yet, the script is smart enough to know that what is said in the heat of the moment is not always indicative of what is in the heart.
Much of the second half of the film takes place at a posh and pretentious dinner party thrown by an old college buddy of Nick's, an American author and intellectual played by Jeff Goldblum.
Director Roger Michell keeps the tone serious and intimate without becoming heavy-handed or preachy. He allows the characters to reveal their depth through conversation and the way they interact with the world and each other. He is aided immeasurably by the skilled and incisive performances of Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, who make us truly believe that they are a couple who have grown both comfortable and complacent with one another over time. Above all, "Le Week-End" acknowledges that relationships are tricky and complex things and come with no pat or easy instructions to make them easier to navigate our way through.
After "Le Week-End," it may not be necessary for Richard Linklater to make another "Before
" movie, after all. I think Kureishi and Michell might have done it already.