New Indie Thursday: Le Week-End

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To me, Paris is THE most romantic city in the world. Looking at the Eiffel Tower, sipping coffee at a nearby cafe, trying oysters at a fancy restaurant, and being surrounded by so much radical history just makes me feel so incredibly warm and fuzzy inside. (I have never been to Paris, but I want to go sooooooo badly… Will you buy my ticket for me?) In Le Week-End, a couple goes to Paris to soak up all the romantic aspects of the city and celebrate their long marriage to each other. Only this isn’t some sappy love story…

Meg and Nick are two teachers that have been married for thirty years. Their children have moved out (though it seems not willingly), on the verge of retirement (forced and self-imposed), and they have been forced to be only with each other. This seems frightening for both of them, but a problem that we have seen a million times before. What is fresh about this film is that there are more complex emotions going on underneath the surface of being alone together forever. Nick feels like an inadequate intellectual because he has yet to publish anything substantial. He is also terrified of being alone and follows Meg around like a little puppy. Whereas Meg is experiencing a rebellious nature awakening inside her that seems to have been put to sleep ever since she got married. She orchestrates an impromptu dine and dash when their bill is too much. She races through the corridors and streets of Paris. She flirts with younger men. She wants to get away from the boring routine of her life as a school teacher. She experience new things and become a new person. Riding underneath all of this is their strong affection for each other. But is this affection enough to keep them together?

I really responded to this movie. I thought it was an honest and complex picture of how a long-term romance evolves. Disappointment and determination become everyday emotions when you share the same life with someone for so long. You are disappointed that life hasn’t turned out exactly the way that you planned it, but you are determined to hold together a relationship that is infinitely frustrating and yet immensely enjoyable. This couple laughs a lot. They joke around and tease each other. There isn’t just this sour and sad exploration of a couple getting older. There is real life and airiness to the movie that I liked a lot. This is of course helped by the amazing performances of Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. Broadbent is an actor that is solidly good in everything he does, but he really excels at relationship dramas like these. He brings a sense of familiarity and warmth to this type of story that the partner could either accept or riff on, like Lindsay Duncan does here. She takes that warmth and injects her own brand of sarcasm and gives it a neediness quality to it. It is quite wonderful how they can play off each other like they are an old couple that has lived together for thirty years and knows every little quirk about each other. Artifice is made real these two actors. In this reality, my own reality is reflected.

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