Film review: Behind the scenes of a long-term marriage in Le Week-End

Dir. Roger Michell. Starring Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, 93mins (15)

Imagine an instalment of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise trilogy about a couple of middle-aged empty-nesters from Birmingham, and you have some idea of the flavour of Roger Michell and the writer Hanif Kureishi's third collaboration, Le Week-End: a loosely structured but acutely observed relationships movie with a wide streak of painful comedy, in which Nick (Jim Broadbent), a philosophy tutor at a former polytechnic, and Meg (Lindsay Duncan), an English teacher, spend their 30th-anniversary weekend get-away in Paris scrutinising what meagre balance of love and fulfilment is left in their marriage.

Dealing in late-career disappointments, the sadness of mismatched desires, and the indignities of ageing, Kureishi's script is full of uncomfortable intimacy and bracing lines. "Your vagina has become a closed book," Nick peevishly complains, while Meg retorts that his clumsy embrace feels not like love but like "being arrested".

And yet a simple shot of the pair's synchronised putting on of their reading glasses to read a menu, or of a constricting wedding band on a finger that is plumper than it used to be, are equally eloquent and to the point.

The plot amounts to not much more than an amiable amble around Paris. But, having left it so late to take new directions in life, the question of whether Nick and Meg will re-connect or come apart is pregnant with drama.

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