Despite the preview appearances, this is not just another feelgood Viagromance from England, the land that brought us The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. This one, a tale of certain age love, is full of little surprises — which are almost scary at times. Written by Hanif Kureshi (of My Beautiful Laundrette fame) and directed by Roger Michel (who made Notting Hill and Hyde Park on Hudson), Le Week-end features an older English couple of the academic persuasion sneaking off for an anniversary getaway in Paris. We gradually get the sense that something is creepy wrong, beginning when the couple stiff a fancy restaurant. Later, we witness hubbie Nick (Jim Broadbent) carnally crawl towards his distant, crabbing wife (Lindsay Duncan) only to be rebuked, setting an icy tone that dominates the brief film — until it all turns bittersweet and whimsical again. Oddly, we’re meant to blame their strange love on left-wing 1960s politics.
Harder moments follow, though the mix of fun and relentless psychological warfare takes a couple of nonsensical turns towards the end. It’s hard to dismiss this sometimes dorky film, mostly due to the keen performances of the leads, and a dazzling tour de force cameo by Jeff Goldblum, who plays a sweet, smart, yet thoroughly narcissistic American colleague. It’s got some gleeful awakenings and unnerving truths, though it’s often awkward about stiff transitions, a bit like getting old.