Thursday, April 17, 2014

Marriage is Not Easy


But Divorce is Harder

By Skip Sheffield

Marriage is not easy. I say that with some authority as a two-time “loser,” as some people cruelly call divorced people.
“Le Week-End” is a bittersweet comedy about a long-married couple trying to revitalize a 30-year marriage. It helps that the couple is played by Academy Award-winner Jim Broadbent and fellow esteemed British actress Lindsay Duncan (“Mansfield Park”). It also helps that Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) directs a script by Hanif Kureishi (“The Mother”).
Nick (Broadbent, master of the slow burn) is a college teacher at the end of a career. Meg (Duncan) is a take-charge woman who comes up with the idea of a getaway to Paris, where the couple had honeymooned 30 years previously. Nick is, to put it lightly, highly skeptical of the whole enterprise. It gets off on the wrong foot when the hotel they had booked sight-unseen turns out to be a dump.
“It’s so beige,” Meg protests
Nick thinks they should hop back on a train home, but Meg thanks the solution is to book a suite at a posh place and put it all on the credit card.
The hotel is beautiful, but Nick can’t relax.
“It’s a brilliantly-designed machine for extracting all our money,’ Nick complains.
On a chance encounter on the street Nick and Meg are recognized by an old friend of Nick’s named Morgan (Jeff Goldblum).
Morgan is living the life with a beautiful, much younger new wife in a gorgeous apartment. Morgan became a best friend of Nick back in college. He clearly idolizes and idealizes Nick. The bitter truth will come out when Morgan invites Nick and Meg to a dinner party at his place. The conversation veers off track terribly, culminating in a withering tirade by Nick that shocks everyone.
“Le Week End” will make you squirm at times as if rips away the pleasantries to reveal the resentments and failures beneath the fa├žade. The main pleasure, if you can call it that, is to see perfectly delivered, cleverly-constructed lines by first-class actors. If you hang on through all the unpleasantness there is an amusing twist at the end. It is not a happy ending nor tragic. It will make you think perhaps these people are made for each other.


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