The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.
Words: Brody Rossiter
IS PARIS FOR LOVERS?
Decades of marriage have left Nick and Meg Burrows disillusioned with one another. The roaring fires of youthful passion have diminished to faint, fading embers of yesteryear, quelled by childbirth, promiscuity and questions of “what could have been?”
What better way to rekindle the flames of a gloriously romantic past than to journey to through the intoxicating districts of Europe’s premier metropolis of passion, Paris. Absconding from their academic careers in Birmingham to the distinctly beige Parisian hotel at which they honeymooned thirty years prior, Nick and Meg quickly release that it’s going to take a good deal more than a few broken French sentences and a trip to the top of The Eiffel Tower to repair the widening marital cracks which threaten to finally call time on their time together.
Starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as Nick and Meg, Le Week-End is far from the feel-good rom-com which it was cynically presented to be by trailers and a collection of cherry picked critic quotes plastered across an equally tenuous quad poster chock-full of grinning faces, photoshopped sunsets and dancing pensioners – there’s even an incorrect English translation of the title included in case you find foreign languages a little intimidating.
This is precisely the kind of commonplace marketing bullshit which says to audiences “we think you won’t get this, therefore we’ll trick you into thinking it’s an entirely different film”, in the process alienating everyone involved. From the pissed off cinematic audience hoping for a lolalicous comedy on a Friday night, to the fastidious cinephiles who avoid aforementioned lowbrow lols at all costs, to the negative Amazon reviewers, nobody wins. The overriding financial aspect of contemporary moviemaking and the necessity to drive ticket sales (alongside popcorn and premier seats) is unavoidable, but it is this approach which is also placing a ceiling on the success of many unique and challenging pictures before they are even released – ensuring that they forever falsely ride upon the coattails of rotten rom-coms rathering than inhabiting their own space within cinema.
Nevertheless, when removed from this insincere aura of goofy grins and old age frolicking, Le Week-End is in fact a strange and confrontational film which explores to fragile personalities of two individuals, who, to the outside world, are seemingly in harmony with one-another. The spectacular implosion of young love has been explored many times but the slow collapse of a lengthy marriage is far less explored territory. Broadbent and Duncan repeatedly spar with one another, explicitly hashing out their respective quarrels – of which there are many – and the petty grievances which have caused them to fall out of love with one another.
Bittersweet and frustrating is perhaps the perfect description of Le Week-End’s insular narrative and the relationship which rests at its nucleus. It won’t make you want to race to Paris, it will most likely make you question your own relationships – both past and present – but ultimately it will make you feel something far more genuine and affecting than most of those perfectly marketed romantic comedies could ever hope to.