to the Chunnel and relaxed EU customs, it is relatively easy for a late
middle-aged British couple to pop over to Paris for a romantic getaway—unfortunately. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,
but they make the trip nonetheless. The
pent-up resentment will flow freely in Roger Michell’s Le Week-End (trailer
screens during the 51st New York Film Festival.
lefty lit professor Nick Burrows’ only success in life was marrying his wife
Meg, but she never lets him forget she was and still is well out of his league.
The magic ran dry quite a while ago, but recent pressures have only made
matters worse. For Nick, this sentimental trip will be a desperate attempt to
renew their relationship, but his wife may have different ideas. Probably the last
person he needs to run into would be Morgan, his vastly more successful former hipster
protégé, yet that is exactly what happens.
Week-End is very definitely
a writer’s film, completely driven by its often caustic dialogue. It seems like
screenwriter Hanif Kureishi takes sadistic pleasure from old put-upon Nick’s
discomfort, forcing him into one dignity-stripping conversation after
another. This necessarily means Meg gets
most of the film’s sharpest wince-inducing lines.
you have to sympathize with poor Nick on some level. A mere ninety minutes of
Meg’s withering banter is exhausting, so the prospect of a lifetime of marriage
with her makes the head reel. Still,
Kureishi maintains the consistency of their voices and scores a number of
the viewers’ best friend during Week-End
is Jeremy Sams, whose elegant jazz-influenced score (featuring trumpeter
Freddie Gavita) gives us something warm and agreeable to hold onto. Even though they are radically dissimilar
films, the combination of muted trumpet and Parisian streets by night
immediately calls to mind Louis Malle’s Elevator
to the Gallows and its Miles David soundtrack.
Meg Burrows, Lindsay Duncan wields Kureishi’s cutting lines like a scimitar.
Yet, Jim Broadbent’s hang-dog face draws Michell’s focus like a magnet. They
spark like crazy together, but it is still hard to believe the extreme emotional
disparity of their union. To lighten the
mood, Michell turns Jeff Goldblum loose as Morgan, lifting all restraints on
his schticky mannerisms with rather amusing results.
It is pleasant to soak up Weed-End’s Paris locations while listening to the moody but
swinging score. In a way, it provides a tart rejoinder to films like Marigold Hotel and Quartet, reminding audiences seniors are not always cute. Well
crafted but somewhat over-written, Le
Week-End is recommended for fans of talky relationship films when it
screens tonight (9/29) at Alice Tully Hall and Monday after next (10/7) at the
Walter Reade Theater, as a Main Slate selection of this year’s NYFF.
Labels: Jeff Goldblum, Jim Broadbent, NYFF '13