Le Week-End (Roger Michell, 2013)
This is really one for the oldies but I still gave it a shot nonetheless. Le Week-End follows one sixty-something couple’s weekend away in Paris for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Not surprisingly this brings up themes about keeping the spark alive, whether love is enough in a sexless marriage, remaining faithful, and contemplating the future post-retirement. Jim Broadbent plays the adorable, somewhat depressed Nick, with Lindsay Duncan (Rebecca Gibney in 20 years) as his wife Meg. I found it hard to empathise with Meg for much (though not all) of the film. She was almost cruel towards Nick, acting like she was repulsed by him but then playing the tease when it suited her. I guess people do that. But poor Jim Broadbent. He’s such a sweet man. In a fine supporting turn, Jeff Goldblum starred as Morgan – a man only a year or so younger than Nick, but considerably more successful and in better shape. A former colleague of Nick’s, he happens to bump into the couple by chance on the streets of Paris. This sets up the best sequence of the film, which I won’t elaborate on further. Jeff Goldblum kills it though. And even though his character is a bit of a wanker, I couldn’t help but warm to him. He was just so damn smooth. And he was still a decent person for the most part.
As a twenty-something who hasn’t even been married yet, I couldn’t quite relate to their stage of life, obviously. My friend and I were the youngest people in the cinema by at least twenty years and clearly we’re not the intended demographic. However, I could understand the concept and it seemed like one that older audiences would appreciate and enjoy. Hopefully they won’t mind the F-bombs and the rather awkward ‘seduction’ scene if you can even call it that. Even I found that part a little gross. And I’m young and with the times (or like to think I am). Initially, I felt like the film moved along at a slow pace, and wondered if much was really going to happen. To my relief, it didn’t just end up being a boring character study about old people. (OK, I suppose sixty isn’t THAT old). It actually became quite dark at one point – not quite the light-hearted fluff it was made out to be in the advertising. There were sufficient laughs to be had, however, and I especially loved the dance sequence. I’ve never seen Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande á part (1964) but I still appreciated a great reference. That was probably my favourite scene but in fact my favourite moment of the night was a particular audience member’s reaction. In the awkward scene mentioned above, as Meg is suggestively hitching up her dress and inviting Nick to look at a certain body part, I heard a lady whisper “She might have had a prolapse”. She hadn’t, but that audience member made my night.
With all the great films that are out at the moment, this shouldn’t be top of your list. But if like me, you’ve already seen everything else (or don’t appreciate serious dramas), then this may be up your alley. For the older viewers (and by that I mean those who are facing retirement and up) this is a rare film that was made especially for you. For those of us who are still a way off that stage of life, it can act as a forewarning for the marital struggles that may lie ahead and provide us with some sort of education. Maybe we don’t know everything just yet…