In Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play “Waiting for Godot,” two bickering vagabonds wait for someone or something they can’t define and aren’t even sure exists. Some scholars have suggested that the travelers are waiting for God, but at least one of the bickering vagabonds in “Le Week-end” would say that they are waiting for love.
Nick (Jim Broadbent) is a philosophy teacher at an English college and an expert on Beckett. For the 30th anniversary of his wedding to Meg (Lindsay Duncan), the couple take the train to Paris, where they honeymooned. That’s also where Beckett is buried. And the marriage ain’t doing so hot either.
Despite the romantic setting, “Le Week-end” is not an elder-love heartwarmer. It’s often as hard to watch as a one-sided boxing match. Weathered ex-hippie Nick longs for a healing touch from his wife, but she belittles him for his passivity. Now that their ne’er-do-well son has left the nest, Meg suggests it’s time to get divorced.
Yet the wife and husband have a stubbornly symbiotic relationship, and his doting comes in handy when reckless Meg needs a co-conspirator for skipping out on restaurant checks and hotel bills.
The waifish wife is such a contrary character, she almost turns the template of a romantic comedy into a psychodrama like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Fortunately for the disoriented audience, Jeff Goldblum arrives as a lively old friend who stumbles across the couple and invites them to a dinner party. Goldblum’s trademark schtick is a tonic for this cocktail. Then the battling guests add another dash of bitters before a final garnish of slapstick.
Directed by Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) and written by Hanif Kureishi (“My Beautiful Laundrette”), this extra-dry mix of drama and comedy is supposed to reflect the complexities of real life. But as a movie, it’s so schematic and schizoid, it leaves us scratching our berets.
Hey, we’ll always have Paris.