(director: Roger Michell; screenwriter: Hanif Kureishi; cinematographer: Nathalie Durand; editor: Kristina Hetherington; music: Jeremy Sams; cast: Jim Broadbent (Nick Burrows), Lindsay Duncan (Meg Burrows), Jeff Goldblum (Morgan), Olly Alexander (Michael), Judith Davis (Eve); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Kevin Loader; Music Box Films; 2013-UK/France-in English/some French-with English subtitles when necessary)
“A playful serio-comedy about marital discord that is more depressing than funny.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A playful serio-comedy about marital discord that is more depressing than funny, without any great lessons on life to take away. It’s directed by Roger Michell (“Hyde Park on Hudson”/”Morning Glory”/”Notting Hill”) and written by Hanif Kureishi, as an homage to the café dance scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande à part. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are perfectly cast, whose grand performances are comical, emotional and intellectual.
Birmingham college philosophy professor Nick Burrows (Jim Broadbent) and schoolteacher Meg (Lindsay Duncan) take the Eurostar from London to Paris for a 30th anniversary celebration weekend. When Meg revolts against the cheap hotel they booked and its depressing beige colored room, they leave and check into a ritzy hotel they can’t afford and get a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Though they are a caring couple, Meg treats Nick with contempt and he fears losing her–saying he’d be terrified to be left alone. Things darken when Nick tells her he’s been given the sack at the college because of an inappropriate comment he made to a black coed. She tells him she doesn’t want to teach anymore and is not sure if she still wants to live with him.
We follow the couple as they dine in bistros and visit museums, churches and bookstores. While the couple is kissing in the street, Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a former Cambridge student Nick hasn’t seen in years, gives Nick a big hello and invites him to his plush Paris apartment the next evening for a party to celebrate the publishing of his best-selling book of essays. Morgan reveals he left New York and his wife, and now resides in Paris with his pregnant second wife (Judith Davis). It becomes apparent that even if he’s an inferior talent, Morgan has the success as an author that has always eluded Nick.
Throughout the the bumpy week-end holiday, the couple go from tender moments to moments of discord. Their week-end ends without resolving their deep problems, but with a forced happy ending as the wealthy talkative expat and the two reconciled for the time being tourist teachers gayly dance together in a seedy café.
REVIEWED ON 4/13/2014 GRADE: B-