Thursday, December 22, 2011

Weekend

Grade: 92 (A)

Weekend is a beautiful movie, and one of the very best films of the year. It is one of the most honest and lovely looks at love and attraction in recent memory. Director Andrew Haigh doesn’t need grand gestures or florid monologues to show the importance of the titular weekend to the central characters; their actions and conversations speak for themselves. The film is about a brief love affair of two men, but anyone who ever felt anything for anyone should have no trouble connecting to their story.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is a shy, awkward young man working as a lifeguard in Nottingham, England. He seems uncomfortable in his own skin. He goes to a friend’s party, where he’s the quietest, least talkative person there. Russell is gay, but his discomfort discussing it with anyone makes it questionable whether or not he’s really out. He has a drunken one-night stand with Glen (Chris New), a far more extroverted, clearly out art-student. The two spend the majority of the weekend together: going out and dancing, staying in and getting stoned, talking, and slowly learning more about each other than they reveal to their closest friends. Their connection is brief: Glen is leaving for America at the end of the weekend. But the power of their encounter is undeniable.

Haigh borrows the structure and simplicity of “mumblecore”, the modern American indie movement predicated on a natural everyday feel, short time horizons, and simple relationships. The film doesn’t have the same improvisational feel as a mumblecore film, however: the dialogue is well-constructed, yet completely believable. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out the film was based on an event in Haigh’s life, considering the specificity. Haigh shoots the city as if to say “look”: there’s something beautiful in just seeing the realities of the city, not to mention a relationship.

Cullen and New, for their part, give two of the best performances of the year. They start out at a simple jumping off point, one introverted, one extroverted, and find the complexities in their characters. Cullen doesn’t have the confidence New does, and New suggests he resents his homosexuality, but beneath it all is a desire to connect to someone. New is far more confident, but he doesn’t believe in relationships, and at the center seems to be a need to keep everyone at a distance in order to avoid being hurt. They argue, make up, make love (the sex scenes are very frank), and it’s a shame they’ll likely never meet again. But their relationship gives them both a chance to talk about the important things in their lives: love, life, the meaning of being gay, and whether or not they can really be with someone forever. Weekend is a not a message movie, but a simple, specific, achingly intimate portrait of two people in love. That is far more powerful than any simplistic message.

2 comments:

  1. Where did you see this movie at? I would very much like to see it but I have found it nearly impossible to find where it will be playing, since searching for "Weekend Movie Showing" on Google gets me nowhere.

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  2. Sorry for the wait. I saw it On Demand, that's the only place I could find it.

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