starring Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum
written by Hanif Kureishi
directed by Roger Michell
A retired English university philosophy professor and his teacher wife take a 30th wedding anniversary weekend trip to Paris to revisit where they honeymooned. It’s not a farce about silly British tourists on the continent. Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg Burrows (Lyndsay Duncan) are academics and fairly sophisticated. They want to revive their relationship with a second honeymoon but the experience doesn’t go as planned. The story is thick with the woes of a long marriage - some of them comic, others tragic . I thought, “Am I going to see this long-married couple break up in this fantastic city on their wedding anniversary? What kind of movie is this?” No, that doesn’t happen, although for a long time it looks like that’s the direction things are taking. It could very easily go that way, but director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, 1999) presents a happier, but not ideal ending. This isn’t an American film, and Roger Michell isn’t an American director, so don’t expect a simple Hollywood-style ending: love and good intentions triumph and the players live happily ever after. The story of Nick and Meg is more realistic than that. Their relationship is kind of earthy. I mean, one doesn’t usually imagine naked old, married people making love. In truth, a long marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes you don’t like your spouse. But that doesn’t mean you don’t love them because love is bigger than dislike. Love encompasses dislike. Marriage is like an endurance race to the (bitter) end. The last one standing is the winner.
Marriage is like an endurance race to the (bitter) end. The last one standing is the winner.
Nick and Meg run into financial trouble when their stay in a good Parisian hotel exhausts their credit card’s limit. But they are saved by the generosity of Nick’s old university buddy Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a successful writer they meet by chance in Paris.
I like the reference to the Jean-Luc Godard film Band a Part (1964), especially the cool dance scene in a beatnik bistro featuring 24-year-old Anna Karina in a sexy tartan skirt, sweater and man’s hat ensemble, with Sami Frey and Claude Brassur. I knew the scene, but until now I didn’t know what film it came from. If you don’t know the film or the scene I mean, check it out on Youtube. Among serious film fans and movie academics the scene is famous.
I like Jim Broadbent. He’s a great character actor and I will deliberately choose a movie if he is in it. He’s not a star or leading man. He doesn’t have the face or figure of a Cary Grant or Brad Pitt. But he’s very talented on his own.
You always did edit out the misery.
You can’t not love and hate the same person. Usually within the space of five minutes.
People don’t change.
They do. They can get worse.