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September 29, 2013

LE WEEK-END — NYFF 51

Le WeekEndAudiences familiar with screenwriter Hanif Kureishi’s work — reference “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid” — will want to seek out the author’s latest collaboration with director Roger Michell (“Venus”). They will not be disappointed. Revisiting their honeymoon in Paris 30 years later, an elderly married couple enjoys a romantic, bitey, and emotionally challenging experience that eventually lands them on equal footing. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play the sixty-something Nick and Meg Burrows with a full range of emotional and intellectual colors that express their struggles as British teachers whose careers have not panned out as they imagined.

The quaint hotel they booked isn’t up to Meg’s standards. Their tiny room is notably “beige.” Tight personal finances don’t prevent Meg from splurging. An expensive sightseeing taxi tour leads the couple to a five-star hotel where they run up an enormous bill while acting like teenagers when the mood strikes. Running out on an expensive restaurant tab presents a challenging adventure — especially for Meg, who is hell-bent to sew at least a few wild oats while basking in the glow of the City of Lights. Nick would settle for a little romp between the sheets. But Meg is not as amorously inspired.

Jeff Goldblum all but steals the movie as Morgan, an expat former classmate of Nick’s from their days at Cambridge. Morgan is everything Nick isn’t — notably a successful writer with a much younger wife. Goldblum’s hyper-intellectual character is so full of himself that you half-expect him to start swinging from lampposts. The poignant nature of Nick’s late-life-crisis comes to a boil during a party at Morgan’s well-appointed apartment over dinner. Nick delivers a devastating monologue that speaks some harsh truths for several generations regarding the 21st century atmosphere of ineffable bleakness. “Le Week-End” articulates a nostalgic sense of romantic aspiration without ever giving in to sentiment. Comedy and tragedy wear the same mask in the city that best represents romantic love. Just as with Paris, you’ll want to revisit “Le Week-End.”

Rated R. 93 mins. ( B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

 



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