Film review: Hanif Kureishi's Le Week-end is barbed, funny and poignant

Roger Michell, 93mins. Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum (15)

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The Independent Culture

The writer Hanif Kureishi brings out the best in Roger Michell, one of British cinema's most unsung directors. There's an edge to their collaborations (ranging from The Buddha of Suburbia to The Mother) that simply isn't found in Michell's more mainstream movies (Notting Hill, Hyde Park on Hudson etc.)

Le Week-end is a barbed, funny and poignant comedy-drama about a British couple in late middle-age returning to Paris for a short holiday that they hope will revive their marriage. They'd like to be Gallic hipsters like Anna Karina and Sami Frey in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960s New Wave classic Bande à Part but the reality is that they're moaning middle-class Brits, sick of the way their lives have turned out.

Wonderfully played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, Nick and Meg are nothing if not contradictory. They bask in memories of their radical youth and yet want to live a high life they can ill afford.

There's plenty of sourness and self-pity here but Kureishi and Michell draw a sly and ironic contrast between the grumbling couple and Nick's successful and charming American writer friend (Jeff Goldblum). The latter ostensibly has everything – new wife, money, status – but still seems to envy their very British misery.