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Paris plays an emotional proving ground in Le Week-End

Paris plays an emotional proving ground in <i>Le Week-End</i>

The great insight in director Roger Michell's fourth collaboration with writer Hanif Kureishi is its vision of Paris as an arena equally amenable to romantic comedy and sulking tragedy. Thus the City of Lights becomes a proving ground in Le Week-End, in which Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play an aging middle-class British couple quarreling away their anniversary, running the relationship through all manner of weapons-testing. Soon enough, the potential doomsday machine of Jeff Goldblum, in a fine display of Goldblumage, arrives, as the Broadbent character's eccentric and comparatively well-off Cambridge classmate. As articulated by these savvy players, the intimate scenario exemplifies what a recent Guardian profile of Kureishi described as "a characteristic note of frosty candor," and Michell's direction wisely tends to stay out of their way. There is, though, a generic or possibly ironic signifier of "maturity" in the smooth jazz that soaks the soundtrack, at least until Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" pops up incongruously over the final blackout. Although its title invites confusion with the like-named 1967 Godard satire, in which an acutely bourgeois couple plunges upstream through a civilization meltdown, the more direct allusion here is to that New Wave titan's melancholic gangster flick Bande à Part, whose famously insouciant dance routine these characters chance to observe and later bittersweetly replicate. When in Paris...

 
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