Thursday, March 13, 2014

Movie with Abe: Le Week-End

Le Week-End
Directed by Roger Michell
Released March 14, 2014

Sometimes it’s good to have a film with a simple premise. “Le Week-End” finds its two protagonists, Nick and Meg, vacationing in Paris on the occasion of their thirtieth anniversary. Each has a different idea of what their trip will be like, and Nick’s choice of a run-down hotel prompts Meg to splurge for a more luxurious option, one which they might not be able to pay for in the end. So begins an adventurous and memorable weekend that provides an interesting and in-depth look at these two people late into their marriage.

Nick and Meg are portrayed by sixtysomething British actors Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. Broadbent won an Oscar in 2001 for his part in “Iris,” and Duncan has made a mark for herself in numerous films and television appearances, including the original “Traffik” miniseries and HBO’s “Rome.” Here, they get to play their age and be at the center of a film, wandering around an unfamiliar city together and exposing hidden thoughts and desires. They are not Americans, so Europe is no big mystery, but there is still a clear sense that they are away from him and living temporarily in an impermanent world.

Paris is always a great setting for a film, and that’s certainly true here. It alternately serves as a lavish backdrop and an all too normal one for Nick and Meg’s romantic drama, which fluctuates from true anger and resentment to Nick passionately kissing his bride on the street. It’s possible to glean a lot about these two by watching them interact and seeing how they treat each other, and the French city is the perfect place to help them come alive and air their problems out in the open.

Broadbent and Duncan are both seasoned actors more than equipped for these roles. As Nick, Broadbent is grumpy and often boorish, but the actor’s wide eyes tell a much grander story. Duncan revels in simple pleasures as Meg, and demonstrates a resilience that indicates a desire not to go on existing but to truly live. While the two of them don’t have all that much to say to each other, the introduction of Jeff Goldblum as Nick’s fast-talking and entertaining friend Morgan provides a burst of energy, something that helps to enliven the film and flesh out its characters’ feelings and desires. It isn’t always fully pleasant, but “Le Week-End” is an entertaining exodus into other people’s lives at a point of definitive and often blissful uncertainty.


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