British Late Life Love Movie Le Week-End Realistic Tender Story of Long Married Relationship
Opening March 21st, in the San Francisco Bay area, 2013 British film, Le Week-End, stars Jim Broadbent (Enchanted April, The Crying Game, Topsy-Turvy, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Moulin Rouge, Iris, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Iron Lady,), Lindsay Duncan (Mansfield Park, Alice in Wonderland) and Jeff Goldblum (The Big Chill, The Fly, Jurassic Park, and Law and Order: CI) is the fourth collaboration between director Roger Michell and British screenwriter and author Hanif Kureishi. The film was screened at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival’s 2013 Special Presentation segment to film goers here in North America.
Broadbent and Duncan play London professional academics, Nick and Meg, at their 30th wedding anniversary, in a dull lifeless and pedantic senior couple marriage relationship, headed to Paris for a weekend in hopes of rekindling their relationship. Their marriage has just segued to being empty nesters, with their adult son desiring to move back in, a troubled substance abusing young man. Their careers are on the wain. Their marriage and lives are at a juncture in time to both re-choose to be together as well as how to devote their lives and days. The movie does not offer any pat answers. Nor does it descend into existentialism or angst filled melodrama.
Duncan is better known for her tremendous live stage work than her movie career. She brings her delicate British complexion and features to subtle life. On the train to Paris, her fine nearly strawberry blonde and grey hair is a disheveled unkempt top knot, and her sweater a plain oatmeal beige crewneck. She wears not a touch of make up for much of the film, a mature woman who cares very little for her appearance either to men, including her husband, or herself. Later in the movie, she gives into the lure of Paris fashion, sporting a darling pair of sparkling black evening hi heels. She models them for Nick, who asks if she does so to appeal to him. Of course not. She bought them for herself.
Their relationship has a number of difficulties. What marriage is without its challenges, after all? Throughout the film, you can feel Nick’s feared tenuous hold on Meg. Will she leave him now? Are they to divorce? Is this time of change for them the end of their marriage? The touch of this delicate film is light. The question of commitment sustained or terminated is never a heavy pressure. It surfaces like a highlighting thread throughout the just over 90 minutes movie. And that is part of what makes the film so true to life.
How Meg treats Nick and their dysfunction and humanness is part of the movie’s realism in the world of middle class intellects. In the scene where she’s clad in dark hose and sparkling heels, it almost has the feel that the spark of sexual sizzle will ignite for them. She has a bit of the dominatrix in her, but instead of being lightly playful with her husband, and embracing the eroticism of the marriage bed, she turns from him out of ennui. Repeatedly in the early moments of the movie, she turns harshly from his embrace. She tells him she feels it more of a molestation than a caress. After 30 years of marriage, she couldn’t have taught him more of what she likes by now?
On his side, Nick is so insecure, it borders for her on suffocating her. She wants more alone time. Does she want so much alone time from him to necessitate divorce? He follows her about from room to room in their now-too large home. As many mature wives feel, the home that was perfect for raising a family has now become too much to maintain. She would prefer to devote her remaining life’s time and energy to different things.
When he accuses her of having an affair with a young IT guy, she feels betrayed and deemed a “whore.” Her umbrage and inner rage seems out of place when it is so clearly an expression of her husband’s deep insecurity. It would be understandable to find him annoying and to have that built up over time as being exasperating and burden.
The pace of their weekend is very leisurely as they explore a variety of Parisian treats. Meg decides where they should dine after strolling around and determining the restaurant’s appeal from the signage, the cafe seating out front, and the menus. Her sip of a glass of French white wine, “That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.” Indeed, Paris is an artistic, fashion, and gastronomic paradise. Eating in Paris you learn the meaning of the word, savor. With Parisian fair, you discover the very reason to savor, never wanting those tastes to depart your mouth. They stroll about Paris, with insufficient ode to Parisian pastry or cheese, devoting time to what I think is Sacré-Cœur (didn’t visit it when I was in Paris), and a nod to Nick’s taste for philosophy and literature with an exploration of the Montparnasse cemetery and a walk by Beckett’s gravestone.
In a moment when the couple has relaxed sufficiently into each other as to share a public passionate kiss and embrace, to the hoots and hollers of passerbyers, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Morgan, an American successful author, former student and protege of Nick’s. He invites them to an informal gathering of friends the following evening in his home. The crowd features intellects of authors and economists, without the American over-optimism of so many romantic comedies of the past 20 years from Hollywood. This crowd is interesting, but never quite stimulating for either of them.
By now, Meg has sufficiently blossomed from their time in Paris and a few adventurous escapades to don a light touch of make-up, perfect for her incredibly delicate coloring and features, and a cocktail dress of black lace. She looks beautiful. If Titian had only painted women over the age of 60, she would have been his choice. Morgan praises Nick before the dinner crowd, only to have him stand and in a moment of self-revelation, be very real to the point just shy of painful vulnerability. Meg’s response shows the couple’s delicate rapport before all. Their relationship features moments on intense tenderness in how they hold hands to Nick’s reverent soft kiss of wife’s neck.
Le Week-End is a marvelous love story in how is realistically depicts mature love and the relationship of a couple long married. Things are complicated between the two of them. And sometimes they really need to include other people more, like Morgan. The movie never stoops to make it easy to sustain a long term committed relationship, nor does it race from the room just when things are awkward and need to be worked through. Doing so results in tremendous tenderness, a key attribute of lasting love.
Happy Dating and Relationships,
As seen in Dating for Dummies, 3rd Edition
April Braswell is an expert columnist at DatingAdvice.com and speaks to singles in Singles Groups and Divorce Support Groups as well as at Singles Dating Workshops and Singles Conferences. Looking to Hire April to speak at your Singles Event?