is an old song that says "There's a thin line between love and hate."
As Le Week-End intriguingly points out, sometimes there is no line
separating them at
"You can't not love and
hate the same person, usually within the space of
five minutes, in my experience." So says Nick
Burrows, a sixty-something recently-fired college professor.
speaking specifically about his teacher wife Meg (Lindsay Duncan), with whom
he is in Paris for a short jaunt – a thirtieth anniversary celebration in
which they are trying to restore some of the faded luster of their
relationship by returning to the site of their honeymoon.
However there is tons of water under le pont by the time they return
to the City of Lights. Years of togetherness and hardship has not
completely dimmed their affection for each other, but it has heaped upon
those feelings a mass of petty annoyances and hot-button points with which
the two passive-aggressively snipe at each other.
like last summer's wonderful Before Midnight, Le Week-End is a
look at love in real life, the hard work necessary to keep it going long after
the bloom is off the rose. While
Le Week-End is not as good a film as that one, it still is an
intriguing and well made look at a couple trying desperately to keep their
heads above water, all the while wondering if what they have together is
romantic, as much as anything, in its lack of sentimental romance.
Week-End is the fourth collaboration between director Roger Michell
(probably best known for helming Notting Hill) and screenwriter Hanif
Kureishi. The filmmakers show an interesting fascination in the love
life of older people, and this is quite possibly their best examination of
the subject yet.
meet our couple on the train ride from their British home on the vacation.
From the very beginning their dynamic is pretty clear – she is a bit
standoffish, he is a bit needy – there is obviously a certain amount of
affection in the background, but there is also a good amount of
is constantly trying to please his somewhat exacting wife. She rejects
the hotel that he has booked with the complaint that it is "too beige," so
after touring the city (by cab) they eventually end up in the suite of a
gorgeous hotel which he obviously can not afford.
trip is to serve many functions for both of them. Nick hopes to
restore some of the intimacy that has been long missing from their
relationship. He also uses the situation as an opportunity to admit
that he has lost his job, a secret he has been keeping for weeks.
on the other hand, is trying to decide whether she wants to continue on in
their relationship. She is actively passive aggressive towards her
husband, and yet periodically you see little glimmers of the strong
affection she feels for the man, even though he frustrates her to no end.
of the film is just Nick and Meg walking around Paris, sightseeing,
exploring their relationship and alternately trying to hurt each other and
comforting each other.
Broadbent and Duncan are wonderful together, able to suggest a life's
history on this couple, as well as give a face to their hopes and
disappointments. It is an exacting job – they are on screen almost
constantly with no other major characters – and the savvy pros find the
sweet spot between making their character likeable and pathetic.
only other major role is Jeff Goldblum – at his most wonderfully Jeff
Goldblum – in a supporting role as Morgan, an American former student of
Nick's who has become a best-selling author. From the time that Morgan
runs into his former mentor on the streets of Paris, he exudes a
pretentiousness and self-absorbedness that is both exasperating and oddly
invites the couple to a dinner party he is throwing that night with his
latest wife and that soiree dominates the final third of the film.
Dealing with other people, particularly an amorous younger Parisian and
Morgan's outcast son, finally brings Nick and Meg's conflict to a head.
just another fight in 30 years full of them? Or is it something which
finally their relationship can not withstand?
odd way, the answer to that question does not completely matter to us as the
audience – though it is of vital importance to the characters involved.
It is enough that we were allowed to share this couple's time and space and
learn what was vital to them. Whether they stay together or grow apart
(and they do make at least a temporary decision on that, but I'm not going
to be the spoiler), there is great love there, but also a fair amount of
within the space of five minutes. Just like real life.
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All rights reserved. Posted: March 14, 2014.