Le Week-end Movie Review
Like a 20-years-later sequel to Before Midnight, this sharply observant comedy-drama follows a couple through a soul-searching weekend in which they evaluate their relationship with real wit and emotion. And transparent performances make it something to savour, as it offers us a rare grown-up movie about real issues we can identify with.
As the title suggests, the weekend in question takes place in France, and it's a 30th anniversary treat for Nick and Meg (Broadbent and Duncan). They can't really afford a trip to Paris, especially after ditching their dodgy pre-booked hotel in lieu of something far nicer, but they figure out ways to make their time special. Meanwhile, they talk about their years together, and the hopes and regrets that are haunting their thoughts. There are some hard questions to ask about their future, even as they haven't lost that spark of sexuality. Then they run into Nick's old Cambridge pal Morgan (Goldblum), who invites them to a party where they meet academics and artists just like them. Which only makes them think even more.
The key issues for them include Nick's early retirement (for an ill-timed comment to a student) and Meg's desire to change her life completely. As they consider the options, their conversations drive the film forward forcefully, flowing through cycles of flirtation and laughter to bitterness and cruelty. The depth of their love is never in doubt, even as they wonder how secure their relationship actually is. Broadbent and Duncan play these scenes effortlessly, taking our breath away because it's all so honest, often both funny and scary at the same time.
There's also a strong turn from Goldblum as the chatty intellectual who is waiting for his new wife (Davis) to see through him. And Alexander has some terrific moments as his son. What's amazing through all of this interaction is the way Kureishi's script and Michell's direction juggle several emotions at the same time. These people are experiencing closeness, isolation, exhilaration, repulsion and tenderness simultaneously, something movies can rarely depict with such razor-sharp authenticity. We feel every moment deeply, and yet the film is never heavy at all. It lightly reminds us that love is both the hardest and the most interesting thing we'll ever do in life.