Synopsis: This sensual, remarkably observed, beautifully acted wonder is the breakout feature from British writer-director-editor Andrew Haigh. Rarely has a film been as honest about sexuality-in both depiction and discussion-as this tale of a one-night-stand that develops into a weekend-long idyll for two very different young men (exciting newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) in the English Midlands. It’s an emotionally naked film that’s both an invaluable snapshot of the complexities of contemporary gay living and a universally identifiable portrait of a love affair.
Weekend (2011) 7.5
eyelights: the naturalistic performances, dialogues and situations. the many discussions about homosexuality in British society.
eyesores: the seemingly endless alcohol and drug use.
“So, is this our ‘Notting Hill’ moment?”
‘Weekend’ is a 2011 British film about a two-day love affair between two twenty-something men. It’s been pretty much universally acclaimed and has garnered a large number of awards at various film festivals.
Personally, I don’t really see what the big deal is. ‘Weekend’ is a well-made film, but I don’t understand what makes it stand out from any other love story. Sure, the actors and dialogues are very good – but why so much attention?
Perhaps it’s the discussions that Glen and Russell have about the acceptance of homosexuality in British society that makes it stand apart from its peers? Admittedly, those were the highlights of the picture.
But it wasn’t anything ground-breaking. In fact, I found Glen’s views slightly dated, truth be told: he kept ranting that there was no place for gays in a heterocentric society that imposes its views on them.
All along, I kept thinking of Ellen. I mean, she’s been out of the closet for nearly two decades and it seems to me that, ever since, someone else comes out. And there are more and more gay protagonists in our entertainment.
So it made me wonder. Is it just that Glen is referring to British society, which would be far more conservative than North American ones? That seems unlikely. Could he just be plain wrong in his views? Possible, I suppose.
Another thought occurred to me: perhaps this was set at a different point in time than the present – as opposed to 2011, when the film was made. But then I realized that they had smart phone and laptops and so forth.
So why do Glen’s perceptions not jive? Is it that my own perceptions are skewed because I don’t live his reality? Could it be that, even though it feels like large inroads have been made in the last two decades, it’s not enough?
In any case, I appreciated the fact that ‘Weekend” had these discussions. I like it when characters have thought-provoking conversations, the likes of which I’ve always had with my own friends – they’re not just vacuous boobs.
But it did bother me to see just how casually and frequently they turned to consuming alcohol and recreational drugs to pass the time. Now, I don’t know that this is any different from their straight and gay peers, but it’s not my reality.
In fact, I’ve been wondering more and more just how much drink and drugs plays a daily part in most people’s lives now. Does the average person consume somewhat regularly, merely as part of their lifestyle?
Either way, I enjoyed Glen and Russell’s interactions. There wasn’t much to their two days together, given that they both had other things to do and Glen was preparing to leave for the United States; they basically hung out.
But there were a few notable moments, such as when they’re in Russell’s kitchen together and Glen comes in really close, bantering and eyeing each other out. It’s extremely playful and fun to watch them flirt.
There was also their night out at the straight club with Glen’s friends, when Glen decided to confront one of the locals who’s clearly having a difficult time with their presence there. He opens a polite, calm discussion about it.
And then there’s the finale, when Glen takes the train. Russ hugs (and later kisses) Glen, helping Glen breaks down his walls. It was perfect because this was exactly the transformation they both needed. It’s the culmination of their journey together.
Of course, there’s also the matter of the sexuality, which was discussed rather frankly but tastefully portrayed. It was no more graphic than your average Hollywood erotic film, but with two guys and no gloss. It was nice.
Frankly, I wish I knew other people who had seen this film because I’d like to understand what was so moving or fascinating about it. Obviously, I thought it was a solid film in all respects, but what makes it so special?
To me, ‘Weekend’ is merely an objectively look at a short love affair – the likes of which happen all the time. The characters aren’t especially notable, and their connection doesn’t really appear all that special either.
But maybe it’s this slice-of-life approach that makes ‘Weekend’ a stand out.
Post scriptum: One thing I found outstanding in this film is the closing track, “I Wanna Go to Marz”, by John Grant (formerly of The Czars). I don’t know if I’d, ever heard of him before (let alone heard his music), but this song was absolutely delicious – total ear candy. So much so, in fact, that I am planning on getting the album.
Date of viewing: June 22, 2014