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Friday, 28 March 2014 00:00

'Le Week-End' presents marriage in heaven and hell in Paris + Video

'Le Week-End' presents marriage in heaven and hell in Paris youtube.com
Written by Martha K. Baker
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Do not expect a knee-slapper from this comedy. Expect the pain of two people living together, told with a knowing smile and sigh. If you've been married more than 30 years, as has the couple in "Le Week-End," you might find parallels.

The film's credits are laudable. It is directed by Roger Mitchell, who also directed "Notting Hill" and "Venus." It was written by Hanif Kureishi, who wrote "Venus" and in 1986, "My Beautiful Laundrette." In "Le Week-End," they are sensitive to the ways of the long-married, the secrets, the annoyances, the sweetness, and the boredom and longing for something else, something more.

This complexity is finely portrayed in the faces and bodies of the exemplary actors, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, who portray the anniversary pair.

Nick and Meg travel to Parish to celebrate 30 years of marriage. They have booked back in their original honeymoon hotel, but it turns out to be shabby and not shabby chic, so Meg, the decisive one, grabs a cab while Nick bellyaches about the cost, and she drives them to a stellar hotel on her anger alone.

She doesn't know why Nick is so concerned about money. He has a good job as a prof. at a school in Birmingham, England. Doesn't he? He wouldn't jeopardize their golden years by mouthing off at a student about the time she spends on her hair rather than their studies, would he?

Their new hotel room has sparkling views of The City of Lights, including the Eiffel Tower in all its nighttime twinkle. They stroll through the streets, reading menus, and buying Nick a nice suit so he can go into one of the fancy restaurants. Charge it, charge it. And on one of their strolls, they meet an old colleague of Nick's, Morgan, played to perfection by Jeff Goldblum as his ego. Morgan's a loud-mouthed, pea-cocking American, who invites the two of them to the apartment he shares with his new, twinkling wife, to brag on his latest publication, an exercise in phallomachy practiced by profs. everywhere.

Jim Broadbent is perfect as the hang-dog elder, crumpled by life, and Lindsay Duncan, who was most recently in "About Time," carries Meg's anger and longing to heights.

"Le Week-End" is sometimes hard to watch but is almost always rewarding. How often are the stories of holders-on told so well and so plaintively?

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