Le Week-end hits Berlin cinemas on January 30.
He’s known chiefly for Notting Hill and Changing Lanes, but Michell has always excelled at igniting love within the voltage field of urbanity: the circus moving through Bath in the closing scenes of his clear-eyed 1995 adaptation of Austen’s Persuasion remains unforgotten. With scriptwriter Hanif Kureishi back on board, Michell’s Le Week- End provides a new twist to this trope.
As Nick (Broadbent) and Meg (Duncan) speed away from London towards a landmark anniversary in Paris, portentous sighs and nervous fidgeting announce the betrayal of old memories, fully realised as the couple trundle up, down and around Montmartre, revisiting the good but mainly bad bits of marriage and taking their (and our) expectations with them. Then they cross paths with former university buddy Morgan (Goldblum) whose cheerful exposition of his own shallow successes gives them a chance to re-appraise their more modest but mutual achievements.
Whether it’s enough to keep the couple going is a question wisely evaded by Michell’s engaging use of the classical unities: instead of condensing time, place and plot into eternal truths, he’s given us an Instamatic shot heady with atmosphere and dark humour. But will it fade once the spirit of the nouvelle vague wears off?
LE WEEK-END | Directed by Roger Michell (UK 2013) with Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.