Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Le Week-end and The Love Punch, two stories of British love rekindled on French soil.
Premise Le Week-end follows the story of an older British couple on the verge of becoming empty nesters. With the prospect of their kids leaving, Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) struggle to see what’s left of their marriage. In an attempt to seek out the romance that originally brought them together, the two return to Paris for a second honeymoon. The Love Punch follows a similar trajectory, except protagonists Richard (Pierce Brosnan) and Kate (Emma Thompson) are recently divorced. After learning that their retirement pension has been stolen, the two Brits travel to Paris (and later the French Riviera) in an attempt to reclaim what’s theirs. While the intention is not to rekindle their marriage, our guess is that the two will experience some sort of love epiphany, just as any characters in your standard rom-com should. While The Love Punch promises a more action-packed experience, we’re worried it could venture into cheesy territory. Advantage: Le Week-end
CastLindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent star as lovers with a marriage gone awry in Le Week-end. Broadbent boasts a seasoned résumé, with an Oscar under his belt for Iris and roles in Moulin Rouge, Gangs of New York, The Iron Lady, and two Harry Potter films. Duncan’s recent work has strongly emphasized TV-based projects, so we are interested in watching her return to the big screen. We’re not surprised that Pierce Brosnan was cast alongside Emma Thompson in The Love Punch; remnants of his 007 character are bound to poke through in this action-based comedy. We’re also somewhat relieved to see Brosnan taking a departure from his short-lived career in movie musicals. Thompson, on the other hand, can do no wrong in our eyes: with an Oscar in both writing and acting, she’s proved that she’s a woman of many talents. In a battle of the Brits, The Love Punch comes out on top.Advantage: The Love Punch
BackdropBoth films leave the UK behind to travel to the city of light. In Le Week-end, Paris is celebrated in all her picturesque glory. As Lindsay Duncan’s character puts it, “Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?” The trailer features shots of the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night, the view from the stairs at Sacré-Cœur, a slew of scenes in cafés and the arcades: all in an attempt to capture the wonderfully romantic spirit of Paris. In The Love Punch, the money shots of Paris are also present, but there is much less of a focus on the city itself; the plot is driven by the scheme to steal back their pension. While both films whisk the viewer off to stunning parts of France, we like how Paris seems to take on the role of an actual character in Le Week-end.Advantage: Le Week-end
BickeringWhen dealing with failed and/or failing marriages, bickering is inevitable. In Le Week-end, Nick and Meg find multiple ways to quarrel with one another; they even go at it in a church, where Duncan’s character exclaims in a not-so-hushed whisper, “You make my blood boil like nobody else!” All this bickering really stems from a deep-seeded love; as Broadbent’s character so eloquently puts it, “You can’t not love and hate the same person.” In The Love Punch, Kate and Richard are divorced, which means they have a whole slew of insults to exchange back and forth. For example, when Richard claims Kate used to “get” him, she snarkily replies, “It’s because I’m a trained child psychiatrist.” While both couples know how to put up a good fight, we think that the banter is wittier and more genuine in Le Week-end.Advantage: Le Week-end
DirectorSouth-African Roger Michell is the director behind Le Week-end. After attending Cambridge and living in London, Michell is something of an honorary Brit who has a strong background in theater as well as film. Michell is most known for directing the 1990’s classic Notting Hill, but he also directed Peter O’Toole’s Oscar-nominated performance in Venus. The director and writer of The Love Punch, Joel Hopkins, has a smaller body of work. He directed the film Last Chance Harvey in 2008, which also starred Emma Thompson alongside Dustin Hoffman, as well as Jump Tomorrow and Jorge. With his work on Notting Hill, Michell has proven he knows a thing or two about romance, giving him an edge in this category.Advantage: Le Week-end
VerdictWhile The Love Punch promises to make us laugh and keep our spirits light, the talented cast doesn’t outweigh all that its competition has to offer. In Le Week-end we expect to be enchanted by Paris and even disenchanted by the struggles of a waning marriage. We think there’s added depth behind the love story in Le Week-end, which is why we think it’s more deserving of our time.Winner: Le Week-end