Have you noticed? They’ve begun making films for people who aren’t 12-yesr-old boys! Le Week-end is one of those. Aimed at Baby Boomers and beyond, it stars Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent (he won for the agonizing Iris) and Lindsay Duncan, winner of two Olivier Awards, a Tony, and a Drama Desk Award (for Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Private Lives). She was also named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 2009.
In Le Week-end Broadbent and Duncan are a married couple “of a certain age” who have returned to Paris to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. It was where they spent their honeymoon, and they are hoping to revive that “honeymoon glow” for a marriage that has grown stale and bitter over the years.
As a couple they appear to be almost cruelly mismatched. He is a meek-mannered, complaisant Philosophy professor; she is a bored, dissatisfied wife whose vicious comments are filled with condemnation and contempt for him. The fact that she is beautiful (she looks like Eva Marie Saint) doesn’t seem to assuage her perpetual malice. Yet he still loves her and is unwilling to acknowledge that the feeling is not mutual. He shrugs off the fact that she rebuffs every attempt he makes toward intimacy, recoiling as if he were attempting to give her a deadly disease. And yet they have their moments. She pushes him to the peak of bewilderment and despair, and then mischievously turns playful and says something to make him laugh. What that is I can’t tell because her delivery is either whispered or mumbled and, when you can hear the words, they are spoken so quickly that they sound like a foreign language. Subtitles would definitely help.
As they bounce around Paris you get a pretty good overview of the city, including an introduction to a plethora of restaurants. If you take notes you can wind up with a pretty good list of places you might want to try for a meal.
While the film is generally well-paced and well presented, it takes a giant leap forward with the entrance of Jeff Goldblum, an old friend of Broadbent’s who is now a successful author living in Paris. He is an unabashed motor-mouth who delivers an intense monologue that is one of the highpoints of the film. The other showstopper is the last few seconds of the film, which is one of the most delightful endings you could ever hope to see. It leaves you smiling, but uncertain. Le Week-end is playing in select theaters around Los Angeles, including the Laemmle Monica.
Photo: Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent