In the film Le Week-End, a couple takes a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate an anniversary. But it's not the romantic getaway you might expect.
Nick and Meg, played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, are in their 60s and have, in any ways, become disillusioned with their marriage. They spend the weekend trying to figure out what they're doing together and what they want from one another.
This is the fourth collaboration between acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michell, who directed Notting Hill.
Throughout the film, the couple rapidly vacillates between love and war. Kureishi says this resembles his relationship with Michell.
"We are like a married couple — we argue all the time and we never have sex," Kureishi tells NPR's Arun Rath. "We're rather like the couple in Le Week-End, in the sense that we argue and fall out and then we do something really good together and then he has a tantrum and so on."
In the end, Kureishi says, the drama of the collaboration pays off: "It seems to me we're doing stuff together that we couldn't do separately."
Like two of their previous films, The Mother and Venus, Le Week-End focuses on the intimate lives of older people. Kureishi says that as he's aged he has become more fixated on these kinds of stories.
On making films about the romantic lives of older people
When I had kids, I began to look at the world from a different point of view and I realized there was in a sense more material in older people that I didn't, in a way, want to write about kids as I had done in, say, The Buddha of Suburbia, My Beautiful Laundrette and so on. And the lives of older people are not normally portrayed much in the cinema.
Most people who have sex in most films are having sex for the first time. It suddenly occurred to me and Rog to think about what would it be like to make love somebody that you've already made love to for 30 years. And I suddenly saw there was an audience for serious films that was not really being catered to.
On switching between novels, essays and movies
It's a tough compromise. You know, I can write an essay for which I get paid 200 bucks and then I'm trying to write a movie to keep my kids in shoes and so on. So, it's a real hustle being a professional writer. I'm amazed at my age — I'm nearly 60 now — that I've managed to make a living, as a member of an ethnic minority in Britain, as a writer for most of my life. It seems to me, looking back, there's a sort of incredible achievement. So I do all of these things because some of them sponsor the other things that I do.
On his next project with director Roger Michell
I want to write a story about two women, two friends, and one of them goes out on a date and meets a man and begins a very hot, sexual relationship with this man. And the story is really going to be about how her pleasure affects her friend and the rest of her family. And Roger and I are beginning to work on this. But you never know with Roger, he's a difficult fellow. It may not work at all.
It's easy to have an idea; in fact, it's easy to have a good idea. But to really develop it and to see whether this idea is going to hold up is another matter. So what we writers do is spend a lot of time throwing stuff away. You need to make a lot of material just to find a little bit of gold you might then be able to make into something for an audience.