Twitter Plot Summary: A couple from Birmingham head to Paris to rejuvenate their marriage. They meet Jeff Goldblum. Epic win.
Director: Roger Michell
Key Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Brice Beaugier
Five Point Summary:
1. Upgrading from a cheap hotel to a really expensive one. But of course.
2. Frolics around Paris. The mischief caused by an older couple. Fun.
3. Jeff Goldblum! Boom!
4. Now I’m not sure what their motives are – do they want to stay together or not?
5. Dinner party at Goldblum’s. Wish I had an invite.
A film set in France featuring a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. Admittedly it’s not a plot that would normally warrant my interest, but when that couple are played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan then it’s a clear must-see. That’s essentially the entire plot in a nutshell – they’ve been together for years and now that the kids have flown the nest, or thereabouts, they start to wonder if there’s any future for them now that all of their responsibilities are over. Thankfully unlike the majority of portrayals of the over-50s in today’s media, they’re both still full of life and despite their increasing years retain a curiosity and interest in the world.
Jeff Goldblum pops up in an extended cameo, and he’s as excellent as always by playing himself – full of charm, wit and easygoing if potentially somewhat irritating joviality. He also acts as a counterpoint for Broadbent’s character – one has it all (Goldblum, naturally) and the other had potential some years back but now thanks to life generally getting in the way, is a despondent older man. This is the best comment on aging and missed opportunities that the film provides, it’s certainly true that real life has a habit of getting in the way of things and that feeling is enhanced the older you get.
If there’s any complaints to be levelled at the story it’s that the whole sequence of events doesn’t feel natural – it isn’t, of course, because it’s a film. There doesn’t seem much logic behind Duncan’s character, jumping haphazardly between joyously running through the streets of Paris with her husband, then swinging in completely the opposite direction, threatening to divorce him or agreeing to go on a date with a man she’s just met. I’m really not clear on her motivations, which may have been a deliberate scripting choice but it doesn’t help us as an audience in what should have been quite an easy character to get to grips with. By all means show us her disillusionment and her desire for something more than what she has, but there are better ways of demonstrating it. On the other side of this is the paranoia, self-deprecation and desperation of Broadbent’s character, his last grasp at happiness in the form of his wife. His motivations were a little clearer, although much like Duncan’s character he does seem to jump about the place emotionally and never seems to settle on one for longer than a few minutes. It’s like ADD for seniors. Not that it matters much that they’re older, these are just two people doing the same things they always have, it’s just they’ve been doing it for longer than your standard movie couple.
So it’s less than perfect, but you could say that this accurately represents their relationship in the film, and relationships in general. It might not be perfect but we muddle through regardless. And that’s what our characters and the script does – there are hints of excellence littered throughout, but they’re marred by the inconsistent attitudes of both of the lead characters (“I want to stay with you!/I want new experiences!/I want to stay with you again!” etc) and I think cramming all of their various woes and worries into a single weekend is a bit much. Still, despite the meandering journey we reach the final destination and everything turns out as you would expect. So that’s alright then.
Favourite scene: The elaborate plan to escape from the restaurant without paying.
Quote: “You’ve never been to Birmingham.”
Silly Moment: The constant back and forth of will they/won’t they split up. Over-egged and inconsistent.