Com­plex in­di­vid­ual needs are ex­plored beau­ti­fully – with wit – in a tale about a weary mar­i­tal marathon set in pic­turesque Paris

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - COLIN COVERT

Le Week-End is a rue­fully funny look at a longterm mar­riage. Jim Broad­bent and Lind­say Dun­can set aside their te­dious aca­demic lives in Eng­land for a quick trip to Paris.

There, he hopes to rekin­dle their amorous spark, but the va­ca­tion be­comes a marathon of comic-ro­man­tic pathos to ri­val Cyrano.

There is sad­ness in this movie, yet di­rec­tor Roger Michell’s pic­turesque view of Paris, and Hanif Kureishi’s hu­mane, plat­i­tude-free screen­play leave you feel­ing un­rea­son­ably happy.

The pair are so­phis­ti­cated tourists, seek­ing out old haunts that thrilled them on past vis­its.

Fling­ing cau­tion into the Seine, they take a grand ho­tel’s pres­i­den­tial suite and dine at three-star restaurants.

But this time, ado­les­cent thrills are scarce.

He’s pho­bic about over­spend­ing — there’s a se­ri­ous rea­son for that.

She’s des­per­ate for ad­ven­ture, es­capism and maybe es­cape from their re­la­tion­ship.

As the less com­mit­ted of the two, she holds the stronger cards. She may be bruis­able but he is break­able.

She gets a per­verse joy from set­ting ev­ery hur­dle higher than the last.

Soon, they’re run­ning out on their din­ner tabs and fac­ing a ho­tel bill as high as the Eif­fel Tower.

Just at their mo­ment of need, they cross paths with Broad­bent’s old school chum (Jeff Gold­blum). Now a prom­i­nent in­tel­lec­tual, re­mar­ried to a gor­geous, preg­nant young French­women, he rep­re­sents ev­ery lost op­por­tu­nity that be­dev­ils them.

He in­sists they be guests of hon­our at a din­ner party, where their frus­tra­tions go from sar­donic to strato­spheric.

Gold­blum shines in this very Gold­blum-y role. There’s a hawk-like alert­ness about his gaze from be­hind nar­rowed lids, a quick­ness of com­pre­hen­sion one jump ahead of ev­ery­one else’s. Broad­bent gen­er­ates a dis­com­fit­ing wit some­where be­tween laugh­ter and winc­ing. Dun­can, lu­mi­nous, ex­presses the full hu­man com­plex­ity of a mid­dle-aged woman weary of her mar­i­tal marathon.

The film sug­gests that to sur­vive in a gen­er­a­tions-long mar­riage you have to be a per­son of ex­cep­tional sen­si­tiv­ity and in­tel­li­gence — or al­ter­na­tively, a sim­ple­ton.

The sublime fi­nale, with all three ac­tors re-cre­at­ing a hokeypokey dance from their favourite New Wave film, shows that even if you’re go­ing through the mo­tions, you can do it with style and grace.

Le Week-End is in cin­e­mas.

Lind­say Dun­can and Jim Broad­bent

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