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Le Week-end (AF)


Stars: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Judith Davis.

Director: Roger Michell

Cole Porter nailed it when he wrote his classic, “I love Paris“. So have moviemakers over the years since adding the spice of the French capital has provided an ideal background to romantic movies in seeking an additional ‘advantage’.

To his considerable credit, then, here director Roger Michell doesn’t deluge us with familiar landmarks. Of course he Eiffel Tower, glimpsed from a hotel room, makes its predictable appearance but only as an extra rather than the featured role the tower usually makes in Paris-set pictures.

Hanif Kureishi’s screenplay with its blend of strong, credible characterisation, innate charm and wit that arises from character and situation rather than simply dropping in gags like raisins into breakfast muesli, is something of a (very pleasant) surprise from this more usually rather more didactic writer.

Best of all is the casting, which raises what might simply be seen as a somewhat stagey anecdote into the realm of splendid entertainment. Jim Broadbent and Lyndsay Duncan are perfect as a late-fifties husband and wife looking to reignite romance with a weekend in Paris to ‘celebrate’ their 30th wedding anniversary. Their travels and travels lead to smartly written and all-too-credibly played bickering, dinner with Broadbent’s wealthy émigré American in Paris friend and media baron Jeff Goldblum and a painful-to-watch but amusing dinner bunch of wealthy wannabe intellectuals, followed by eviction from their hotel…

It’s essentially a three-hander. And it’s hard to think of three better actors. Michell and Kureishi should be very grateful. And, given its considerable charm and lack of crudity, the fact that ‘Le Week-end’ is a Channel Four film comes as something of a surprise. And for once your lottery money hasn’t been wasted either

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Curzon Films. Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Oct 2013