Le Week-end

Directed by Roger Michell

Starring Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum

by Katharine Fry

I can’t help it. You say romantic film set in Paris, I think Julie Delpy. Yes, I know there have only been two of them but I can’t help it. So, when I head into a screening of Roger Michell’s (Notting Hill and Enduring Love) new Paris romance, I am hoping to see Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent as Celine and Jesse or Marion and Jack all grown up.

Instead we see Nick and Meg, a married University Professor and Schoolteacher from Birmingham, trying to fan the flames of their empty nest by revisiting their honeymoon in Paris. Unsurprisingly it isn’t plain sailing. At the outset, Meg appears cold and distant – the new beige walls of the hotel they previously stayed in don’t please her – but her anarchic sense of fun is progressively revealed as she insists the taxi they escape from beige in takes them circling round the sights before depositing the couple at a hotel far beyond their means. We enter their suite – once stayed in by Tony Blair – and discover that Meg rebuffs Nick’s every romantic – read sexual – gesture. Zoom in on Nick and we start to see why. He’s all long-sighted distorted eyes and plastic bag clutching twitching neurosis. His reasons to twitch unfold, often in stark contrast with Jeff Goldblum’s meteoric successes. Goldblum plays Morgan, a Cambridge contemporary of Nick’s they randomly bump into whose career has since taken a very different, far richer path.

It is at Morgan’s dinner for his coterie of Paris’ luminaries and intelligentsia that Nick and Meg unravel the most. Duncan’s Meg seems to fare best of the pair. Even in a crisis of self- doubt. she remains dignified and enigmatic. Sometimes, though, Broadbent’s Nick seems too obviously pathetic, pushed too far for sympathy. Or perhaps he’s just too uncomfortable to watch. I never can decide.

That, in a nutshell, is my problem with Le Week-end. The moments of comedy are deftly played. Nick and Meg’s japes and capers as they run progressively penniless through Paris are quite delightful. Their desire to recapture some lost feeling, through her daring adventures and his careful mural of the past, together with their love-hate relationship, that draws their adult child, possible past affairs, possible separate futures, into an endless push-pull are expertly rendered. But I’m never sure if I really care. Though the writing is good, it doesn’t seem to offer me enough of the heart of their past for me to care about their future. Celine and Jesse on the other hand…

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