After 30 years of marriage, they've decided -- perhaps because Nick pushed for it -- to celebrate their anniversary weekend in Paris.
That sounds romantic, but Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent) are in a marriage that has lost much of its sparkle.
Their grown son has become a human barnacle, sponging on their fragile finances. A professor at a second-rate college, Jim has just lost his job for running afoul of the PC police, and Meg, also a teacher, has given up on sex.
Written by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Launderette) and directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill), Le Week-End is not an exercise in Bergman-like despair: It's a comedy -- albeit one that tastes bitter around the edges.
The Paris trip sours from the start. The couple checks into a hotel that depresses Meg. She instantly detests its brown decor. Nick tries to keep up her spirits, but Meg stalks out, forcing the couple to take a budget-busting suite at a luxury hotel.
Duncan's Meg can be cruel and remote; Broadbent's Nick tries to solider on as he weighs the inescapable failure of a life that never fulfilled its promise.
In a clear-cut case of insult-to-injury, the couple runs into Morgan, an American who knew Jim from shared days at Cambridge. Le Week-End offers Goldblum an opportunity to do some his best acting in years.
He's playing an arrogant academic who has just published a book. He lives in Paris with the adoring wife, the young woman for whom he left the U.S. and his first wife. His hippy son (Olly Alexander) has arrived for a weekend visit.
Morgan enjoys his status -- even though he's aware enough to know that there'll come a point when his young, pregnant wife (Judith Davis) runs out of adoration, and he'll be left exposed, a pompous, self-absorbed man.
Kureishi is a smart writer who pushes his characters into one uncomfortable situation after another, some of them leavened by the wit of the dialogue.
A dinner party scene at which Nick makes a startling speech almost goes over the top, but Nathalie Durand's cinematography, Michell's generosity in putting Paris on display (its beauty may be a taunt to Meg and Nick) and the wit and candor of the performances make Le Week-End a trip well worth taking.