Weekend (2011)

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Weekend is a sincere and affecting love story which sees two gay men come together over the course of a weekend where they discuss various matters including the issues of what it means to be gay in modern society and the social taboo that still exists around homosexuality. On the surface it’s just a simple film about two people falling in love and discussing their sexuality, yet by the end of the movie you feel as if you have watched a touching and remarkably realistic account of what a flourishing romance is really like.

After a night spent hanging out with his straight friends, quiet and reserved Russell stops at a gay bar on his way home and meets the outgoing and opinionated Glen. The two spend the night together and the next morning Glen tape records an interview with Russell about their sexual encounter the night before as well as how he came out to his friends and family. Russell is at first reticent to give too much away but soon reveals extremely personal thoughts and feelings. The bond between the two men seems incredibly strong yet Glen makes a point of announcing that he ‘doesn’t do boyfriends’. Over the course of their conversation he also suggests that perhaps Russell is ashamed of his sexuality due to his quiet nature and the fact he abides by what Glen would refer to as Hetero society’s rules and keeps his sexuality behind closed doors.

After meeting up again the next day, Glen reveals that he is leaving for America the next day to do an art course and may never return to Britain at all. This could be the first and last weekend the two men will have together. They thus spend as much time together as possible over the rest of the weekend including Glen’s going away night out which the two soon duck out of to go back to Russ’s flat. There they continue to have intimate and sincere discussions on their own experiences as gay men, fuelled by a heady mix of drugs, sex and more drugs. As their time draws to a close, it remains to be seen whether the two men will profess their true feelings for one another and whether Russ will prove himself to be the incurable romantic Glen bills him as and arrive to see him off at the station.

Throughout the film, the two lead actors are rarely out of shot and both Tom Cullen and Chris New deserve great praise for delivering two incredibly genuine performances. Their numerous and lengthy conversations I imagine had some script direction but one can see that there was a great deal of improvisation going on too. Director Andrew Haigh draws out two strong turns from his leads and between them, this trio manage to tackle a weighty subject matter and make it seem sincere yet at the same time casual and honest.

One key issue tackled is how liberal straight people profess to being fine with homosexuality but only if it isn’t in their faces, while heterosexuality and hetero lifestyles are forced down gay men’s throats constantly. One telling scene sees a group of straight friends talking graphically about sexual exploits on a public bus as Russell sits awkwardly nearby. One even mocks a friend of his for being ‘gay’, a needless slight which must cut Russell deep despite him not showing it. The regular jibes and accusations that gay people face on a daily basis are also laid bare as even a tender moment between the two men is interrupted by someone yelling an insult.

Weekend does tackle specifically gay issues and does force the viewer to consider these issues as it progresses, yet underneath it all, it is also a very thoughtful love story. The star-crossed lovers who just can’t be together is a cinematic trope as old as time but here Haigh delivers a fresh take on the story and delivers a personal and intimate look at love and how one person can have a profound impact on your life.

DIRECTOR: ANDREW HAIGH
STARS: TOM CULLEN, CHRIS NEW
RUNTIME: 96 MINUTES
COUNTRY: UK

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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