This review is also up at Channel 24.
What it's about
A British couple return for a weekend to Paris, the place where they spent their honeymoon many years prior, in an attempt to reignite a marriage that has long gone stale.
What we thought
Maybe it's an age thing but unlike seemingly the vast majority of critics, I mostly hated Le Weekend. Here we have a film with a top-notch cast, a sharp script by renowned novelist Hanif Kureishi, solid direction by the inconsistent but undeniably talented Roger Michell and the kind of minimalist, slice-of-life plot that I generally really enjoy (Richard Linklater's Before trilogy being a particularly fine example) and yet Le Weekend's very respectable ninety-minute running time ended up seriously testing both my patience and my resolve.
The problem, very simply, is that I absolutely detested the ageing married couple at the centre of the film. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are undeniably terrific in their respective roles but after five minutes in the company of these characters, I was desperately hoping for some sort of double decker bus to come screeching around the corner and put both them and us out of our misery.
Broadbent's Nick is insufferable enough but he's nothing in comparison to Duncan's Meg. Cold, cruel and manipulative, Meg is the sort of person you would walk five miles in the opposite direction to avoid and after having spent a scant ninety minutes in her company, I could easily see why Nick was the broken, bitter man that he was. Nick may be an utterly unsympathetic ass who could do with a swift kick in the balls courtesy of his semi-estranged deadbeat son but, after spending a few minutes with his missus, you could at least see where he's coming from.
The biggest problem though is that it would be one thing if we were expected to laugh at these characters, but we're apparently supposed to relate and sympathise with them. Now, I admit, I have in fact not been married for thirty years so it's perfectly possible that I am missing something here but, even just based on what little I know about the middle-aged couples with which I am related/ acquainted/ family friends, I didn't even find this married couple from hell all that realistic either.
There is, however, some good news to be had. Giving us a break from the abject misery of spending time with Nick and Meg, Jeff Goldblum comes riding in to save the day. And when I say Jeff Goldblum, I mean Jeff Goldblum. While Broadbent and Duncan are very clearly playing characters, Goldblum basically just takes his Goldblum persona and turns it all the way up to eleven. This is Goldblum at his most Goldblumy and he is the one shining light in an otherwise miserable cinematic experience. Oh yeah, he plays an old friend of Nick's, for what it's worth, but who cares – I was just glad to see him and would much rather have spent another 90-minutes with Jeff Goldblum talking in that one-of-a-kind Jeff Goldblum way than having to spend another minute in the company of Nick and Meg.
Other than the Goldblum though, there's not much else to recommend about Le Weekend. Even the cinematography is a bit of a let down. Obviously, nothing about this film is going to do any lasting damage to the careers of incredibly talented people involved, especially what with it having been well reviewed by just about everyone else and everything, but I may need a break from them. Not a long one perhaps but just long enough to expunge the memory of Nick and Meg from my brain.