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Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

Le Week-end

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Nuance, subtlety and insight have, by and large, fallen by the wayside in mainstream cinema’s addiction to stuffing its coffers.

Because it is the only art form happy to take us back to the bog rather than elevate us above it, you really mustn’t let a movie like Le Week-end (and Nebraska) come and go without taking in its intelligence and humanity.

As the years pass, ‘like smoke through a keyhole’, it is a popular recourse to try to revive the present with an injection of les temps perdu.

Nick (Jim Broadbent) is an unfulfilled lecturer who has just been sacked from his post at a Birmingham polytechnic. He and his wife Meg (Lindsay Duncan), a beautiful but discouraged woman of a certain age, return to Paris to try to recapture the magic they experienced there in the dim and distant.

Meg is distraught when the hotel where they stayed is not quite how they remembered it – it’s poky and ‘the walls are beige!’ she moans.

They check into posh accommodation and in a desperately definitive scene, we get a close-up of Nick listening to music through his MP3 player. He’s had a few vins and is mumbling the words of Dylan’s majestic Like A Rolling Stone. The camera draws back slowly and, as it does, the song bursts into full volume, with Nick standing in singlet and undies, while Meg is lying in bed watching him… they are alone together.

Owning up to one’s shortcomings and delusions is a confrontation that is more often than not kept in the too-hard file.

The City of Light will illuminate harshly, but forgivingly, Nick and Meg’s long, slow descent into self-oblivion. Broadbent, who is always good, is perfectly in tune with a radiant performance from Duncan, and what a treat it is to be re-acquainted with Jeff Goldblum in neurotic, self-parodying overdrive as Morgan, the celebrity academic whose publishing triumphs and Rue de Rivoli address represent all that Nick might have been but isn’t.

A lovely film, piquant and passionate.

~ John Campbell

 


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