Wisconsin Film Festival Spotlight: “Le Week-End”

Le Weekend Directed by Roger Michell Starring Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent

Tickets for the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival went on sale Saturday, and each day between now and the start of the festival on April 3, I’ll be zooming in on one of the more than 140 films playing at the festival. If you have suggestions about films you’d like to know more about as you’re planning your festival experience, let me know in comments.

Le Week-End” (Sunday, April 6, 3:45 p.m., Capitol Theater)

“No one can make my blood boil like you do.” “That’s the sign of a deep connection.”

A weekend in Paris — what could be more romantic? That probably is about as romantic as it gets for the late-middle-aged British couple in “Le Week-End,” the new film from writer-director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill,” “Venus”). Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) are a married couple celebrating their 30-year anniversary by returning to Paris, where they used to frolic as a passionate young couple in love.

But any thoughts that they’d some how return to those carefree selves are dashed before they get to the hotel — they’re the same bickering, particular, gently exasperating pair they were back in London. And so “Le Week-End” becomes a very different kind of Paris love story, as Nick and Meg take stock of their lives together, figure out what went wrong and what went right, and see if they can find a path forward together.

For me, the big draw here is the actors. Broadbent (“Hot Fuzz,” “Moulin Rouge”) is just great in everything he’s in, playing the seemingly doddering but sly Britisher to perfection. And the New York Times just had a big profile on Duncan, who is beloved in England but not nearly as well known here, aside from memorable roles in “About Time” and an episode of “Sherlock.” And the film also has a supporting role by Jeff Goldblum as an old friend turned expat, which sounds like comic gold.

Indiewire called the film  “poetic” in its view of an estranged couple facing the abyss, but at least doing so together, while Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian said it creates “the kind of gentle melancholy comedy after which you leave the cinema not sure quite how depressed you are supposed to be feeling.” In other words, don’t believe the trailer, which makes it look like “Before Sunrise” for Baby Boomers.

Only rush tickets are left for a 1:45 p.m. Monday, April 7 screening at Sundance, but tickets remain for a Sunday afternoon show at the Capitol Theater.

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