24 Oct

Title: Weekend
Andrew Haigh
Writer: Andrew Haigh
Tom Cullen, Chris New
MPAA Rating: 
Not rated
96 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
Rotten Tomatoes: 

Sixteen years ago Richard Linklater gave us Before Sunrise, a beautiful film about a young man and woman who meet while in a train ride, spend a night together in Vienna and then leave each others lives, each having a tremendous impact in the life of the other. I adore that film, the dialogue is exquisite and the approach to such kind of a love story, one that from the very get-go is presented with an end-date, is tremendous, as the film goes to offer up a really compelling character study and examination of real love. Weekend, a film written and directed by Andrew Haigh, and starring Tom Cullen and Chris New in their film debuts, elicited the same kind of reaction from me, this is the Before Sunrise for this new decade, exploring homosexuality as it goes on to show an amazing brief romance, and how experiencing pure, true love, even for such a brief time, can really impact one’s life.

I really wasn’t expecting to be as affected as I ultimately was by Weekend. This really is a very special little movie, and if you’ve ever met someone that within a span of a few days has had a huge impact on your life, you’ll really connect to it at a really great level. And what’s so terrific about this movie is that it never once seems as though it was trying to strike such a chord within us as viewers, I mean it does, it really does, but the film never once compromised any part of itself to try and achieve that, it just presented us with a relationship and trusted that we would be a smart enough audience to really appreciate it. And I really feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to watch a film like this, it’s impeccably authentic, and one that feels really intimate, as you feel like you’re invading the privacy of these two men and become a part of their heartbreakingly bittersweet romance.

And look, yes, this is about two men, who meet a gay club and who form their bond over the weekend that follows their drunken one-night-stand, but it really shouldn’t be labelled as a “gay movie”. That label right there automatically limits its chances of exposure, and I really think everyone should try and watch this movie, because, once you get over the fact that it’s about gay men and that it features man-on-man action, it really is just a truly remarkable romantic indie movie, about two people who have their flaws like we all do, and who connect to each other in really unexpected ways. I really loved just how incisive this whole film experience was, as we meet Russell, a guy who’s really still semi-closeted, and Glen, a gay artist. They meet, they have sex, and then they proceed to talk about the sex they just had in a rather graphic fashion, and from that ensues a truly remarkable piece of character study, as we tackle Russell’s uneasiness with being out, and Glen’s art project in which gay men talk about sex, and from those conversations they form a connection that’s amazing to watch evolve over the weekend they spend together, the sort of intimacy it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in.

And part of the reason why it’s so easy to lose yourself in this film is that very much naturalistic approach Mr. Haigh takes to their relationship, a hook-up that at first seemed destined to not much more than a morning-after coffee and chat but that unexpectedly becomes something more, something extremely vulnerable for both of these men and growingly complicated as an unavoidable goodbye glooms ever closer. And Mr. Haigh, who’s had years of experience in editing departments for films such as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, really knows how to put it all together in a way that feels truly sublime, giving us really great shots of Nottingham, shot in a quite mellow digital video, that add a lot to the eye of detail that is such a great part of Weekend, and give the film a realistic sense of rhythm that feels superb to the eye.

Mr. Haigh seriously is a talent to watch out for, the self-assuredness he demonstrates with this film is just amazing, exploring some really profound themes and giving a brilliantly focussed observation of two men, two men who have to deal with being gay while also  tackling the more universal subject of sheer sexual attraction, and the consequences of when that attraction becomes something much deeper. And as a brilliant a writer-director as Mr. Haigh may be, another stroke of genius was the casting of Mr. Cullen as Russell and Mr. New as Glen, the former is splendid at showing us a man who’s not all that comfortable in his own skin and who has a real loving side to him, while the latter avoids turning Glen into a rather obvious and caricaturesque character of a confident and somewhat confrontational gay man and gives us a really great performance, and the two together bring out a lot in each other, both the actors and their characters, and provide from some truly spell-binding moments in the film.

I loved Weekend, it’s one of the year’s best films for sure. It’s naturalistic style, of an intended lack of polish in the sound design, in us only hearing background music when the characters are, of the dialogue that seems kind of improvised even though it most likely isn’t, it’s all seriously amazing stuff. And what’s most amazing is that it never once compromises itself, a less confident director would have tried to give us all sorts of answers, thinking that its film needed that to keep its audience engaged, but Mr. Haigh knows what he has and he keeps it honest to itself and to the nature of its story, giving us an open ending, that makes the end result all that more satisfying. Go see this film, please, don’t think about it as a gay film because it’s not, it’s a film about the beauty and sadness that love can sometimes bring forward, and it’s a film that has its sexiness not in any kind of love scene, but just in the way that these two characters engage in conversation about stuff movies today don’t talk about all that much, and in the deeper subjects that come form them.

Grade: A-


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