“Roger Michell’s new film—in which Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan try to jumpstart their ailing marriage with a Paris mini-break—plays out like a British, middle-aged Before Midnight,” wrote the Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard when she saw Le Week-End in Toronto. “It is brittle and bitter, petty and parochial—where Linklater’s, which revisited lovers Jesse and Celine, on hols seven years having finally got together, was good-looking even when things got ugly. For much of its running time, Michell’s is plain old cross. And while Linklater’s script was written with his returning stars, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Le Week-End is Michell’s latest collaboration with writer Hanif Kureishi, following The Buddha of Suburbia on TV, then The Mother (2006) and Venus (2008). This feels by far their most personal. It riffs on shared experience: Broadbent’s character, Nick, is a lecturer who studied at Cambridge some 40 years before (Michell and Kureshi, plus longterm producer Kevin Loader, were there about five years later).”
“Finally free of a grown hanger-on of a son, the vacationing duo find their golden-year freedom stirring up fears of loss, identity, and inadequacy,” writes R. Kurt Osenlund in Slant, “and their rapport is a constant toggle between warm codependence and button-pushing spats. Both keenly calculated and flowing with offbeat, naturalistic detail, Kureishi’s jewel of a script reflects his sensibilities as a playwright, and like Before Midnight, Le Week-End often unfolds like filmic theater, with potential contrivances of language being transcended by its honesty and the ace actors tasked to relay it.”
So that’s four out of five stars from Shoard and three out of four from Osenlund, but Carson Lund, writing at In Review Online is not won over: “Broadbent plays the self-loathing, sarcastic type and Duncan the fed-up free spirit, with an additional injection of Jeff Goldblum as another clueless high-society philistine, giving an immediate sense of the utterly predictable direction this narrative takes (hint: its culmination involves Broadbent reverting back to a childlike state and Duncan threatening infidelity). There’s nothing much wrong with Le Week-End other than just how boringly safe it all feels; these actors can play these roles in their sleep, and the threat of marital wreckage, however movingly realized in spots, is merely a path to cutesy reassurance.”
“You’ve seen these archetypes out and about on the Upper West Side, strutting from cabs outside the Lincoln Center on their way to attend important cultural events,” writes Martin Tsai in the Critic’s Notebook. “The film’s American premiere at the New York Film Festival comes as a shocker to no one. Le Week-End does suggest the discrepancy between stereotype and reality, and that the Burrowses are merely keeping up appearances. They recklessly live it up in Paris as if they’re in some Woody Allen movie (Midnight in Paris, peut-être?) and then quickly come to the realization that this is beyond their means financially, emotionally and socially, and that the pursuit of this lifestyle has no bearing on actual fulfillment and self-realization.”
“The final party is as rich and well-written as late 80s Woody Allen,” finds Jordan Hoffman at Film.com. “While the overall film is more mild, and ends with a somewhat silly deus-ex-Goldblumina, the good of seeing senior citizens treated maturely on film far outweighs the bad. And director Mitchell wisely knows how to turn a somewhat far-fetched final scene into a cineaste’s delight.”
For Aaron Dobbs at Hammer to Nail, “Le Week-end’s greatest success is that it is a brutally honest, thoroughly engaging and beautifully uplifting exploration of two people who love each other desperately, even in those moments when they want to run away.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney finds it “pleasurably supple in its mood shifts between droll verbal comedy and penetrating emotional truth.” Variety‘s Dennis Harvey: “A long way from the flashiness of such name-making early exercises as My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Kureishi’s writing is insightful and precise here, though not immune to the occasional, useful shock tactic.”
More from Bilge Ebiri (Vulture), Howard Feinstein (Filmmaker), David Gritten (Telegraph), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York), Gabe Toro (Playlist, A-), and Amber Wilkinson (Filmmaker). Tim Teeman‘s got a fun profile of Goldblum in the Financial Times. Le Week-End premiered as a Special Presentation in Toronto and screens this evening and on Monday, October 7, at the New York Film Festival.
Updates, 10/5: “Marriage brings together the most serious things: sex, love, children, betrayal, boredom, frustration, and property.” The Guardian runs an essay by Hanif Kureishi. And the Guardian‘s Xan Brooks interviews Duncan.
“While the film’s title itself may be a sly allusion to Jean-Luc Godard‘s 1967 movie of the same name, there are explicit references to the iconic café dance sequence from the celebrated auteur’s 1964 film Band of Outsiders,” notes Gerard Raymond at the House Next Door. “In a delightful climax, which cheerfully borrows from the Godard movie, the three characters [Nick and Meg and Goldblum’s Morgan] celebrate together, but the truths expressed about their lives will linger on.”
Update, 10/15: Le Week-End‘s opened in the U.K., and in the Financial Times, Nigel Andrews calls it “a small, perfectly formed triumph.” More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 3/5), Dave Calhoun (Time Out, 4/5), Sophie Monks Kaufman (Little White Lies), Mark Kermode (Observer, 4/5), and Matt Wolf (Arts Desk). And the Telegraph‘s David Gritten chats with Kureishi and Michell.