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Friday, October 4, 2013


Nick Burrows (Jim Broadbent) and Meg Burrows (Lindsay Duncan) in LE WEEK-END.
Courtesy of Music Box Films
2013, 95 minutes
Rated R for language and some sexual content

Review by Joshua Handler

Roger Michell's (Venus, Notting Hill) Le Week-End is a small gem about a British couple, Nick and Meg (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, respectively), who travels to Paris on their 30th anniversary to save their marriage.  Jeff Goldblum co-stars and the gorgeous cinematography was done by Nathalie Durand.

Of any film at NYFF this year, this was the most unexpected in terms of my enjoyment level.  Le Week-End had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month and completely passed under the radar with films like 12 Years a Slave and Prisoners stealing the spotlight.  Hell, I only saw this film because it was screening at a good time and I love the actors and writer that worked on it.  I am thrilled I saw Le Week-End, as it is the work of a cast and crew on top of their game.  Much of the film's credit goes to Broadbent, Duncan, and Goldblum who all give warm performances that perfectly capture their characters' idiosyncrasies.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan have such natural chemistry that it is hard to believe that they haven't actually been married for 30 years.  They seem to know each other's every move and seem to be able to finish each other's sentences.  Their performances are so full of love and honesty that it is hard not to fall in love with them, flaws and all.  Jeff Goldblum is strong as Nick's friend, Morgan, who Nick and Meg bump into while in Paris.  Morgan is a rich, very odd man and Goldblum captures him perfectly.

Hanif Kureishi's screenplay is a wonder.  While it falls into somewhat easy comedy in the finale, what comes before is so moving and so honest that it is very easy to forgive any missteps.  Kureishi's dialogue is never anything less than believable.  Even a long, emotional speech in the film's climax comes across as genuine thanks to Kureishi's easy way with honest dialogue (and the phenomenal acting).  Kureishi's script works especially well because it pays attention to the small moments and details.  Those moments are the ones that define Nick and Meg.  They are the ones that show the most pain or the ones that show the wonder of being in a committed relationship; they add depth and believability to the characters.  Michell's understated direction complements Kureishi's script and allows it and the actors to shine above anything else.

Overall, Le Week-End is a really special deceptively simple little film.  It is the work of a director, a writer, and three actors who, with their combined talents and years of experience, pull off a little miracle.  Le Week-End will likely play best with older audiences, yet younger adult audiences will surely connect with many parts of this film.  The experience of marriage and the struggles and wonders that come with it are universal and Le Week-End will likely resonate across age groups for that reason.


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