Lindsay Duncan Jim Broadbent Jeff Goldblum
Le Week-End looks a bit like Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, except the couple here is older. Duncan’s character, Meg, reminds me so much of Julie Delpy’s Celine; they both are prickly and emasculating. For that reason, I have a hard time enjoying either film. It seems to me the Ethan Hawke and Jim Broadbent characters are patient almost to a fault, and spend a good part of the stories trying to please their irritable wives.
When this story begins, Nick (Broadbent) and Meg (Duncan) are on the train from Birmingham to Paris, something he has arranged in one of his many attempts to please her. When they arrive and go to their hotel, the color of the room is displeasing to her, and she dashes for a taxi (he barely makes it), chooses a much more expensive place, and tells the clerk that price is no object. (We learn later that price should be an object.) At first, they are turned down because they don’t have a reservation, but then the clerk comes to them sitting on a lobby sofa, and says something has opened up. It’s a grand suite, and they settle in without a care.
The rest of the story is about their sojourn in Paris, and we learn that this is something of a second honeymoon, and whether or not they will stay together after 30 years of marriage is up in the air. By coincidence, they run into one of his old colleagues, Morgan (Jeff Goldblum)—who has become eminently successful—and he invites them to his ritzy apartment for a party hosted by his new young wife in celebration of a book he has just had published. This evening—for all of its bizarre qualities—helps them decide about their commitment to one another.
This film certainly has its moments, but the responses of characters so many times just don’t ring true. For instance, the characters consistently run away from compliments and enjoyment, not the typical human response. After Nick is praised at dinner by Morgan for all Nick did for him in the past, Nick’s response is to get up and talk about his failures in life. This is consistent with the rather pessimistic, cynical picture of human beings in the film, as in the statement, “People don’t change”, with the response being, “They do; they can get worse.” Both the main characters criticize themselves for being faithful to one another across their 30 years together. When Meg expresses her “boredom, dissatisfaction, fury—and the clock ticking by”, the acquaintance tells her how great it is to be so attuned to one’s own unhappiness.
Whereas Before Midnight ends with a clever last scene that was hopeful, but also seems to follow logically from what went before, Le Week-End ends with a feeling of “…and just how did we get here?”
I try to think of who would enjoy this film, but no one comes to mind.