Based around the early days of the rave scene, it’s not surprising to find that the blend of energy, great music, Manchester (for the most part) setting and great characters in Weekender brings to mind the modern classic, 24 Hour Party People. This is no modern classic but it’s certainly a fun film that looks at both the highs and lows that came along with the pill-popping, loved up dance parties.
Karl Golden (really, could a man directing a movie about the rave scene have a better surname?) directs from a script by Chris Coghill and starts off by placing us right beside young Matt (Henry Lloyd-Huges) and Dylan (Jack O’Connell) as they pull off yet another one of their money-making scams to ensure they can make the most of a weekend rave party. And then they come up with the simple, but apparently brilliant, idea of holding their own raves. Making money hand over fist while dancing around at their own party – it’s a dream come true. Things get complicated once the lads start to make serious money – others show interest in their “business scheme”, the police are sniffing around, there’s a bit of girl trouble, etc – and the comedowns start to far outweigh the highs. But can the lads make things work and extricate themselves from the mess that’s starting to rise around them?
Here are the things working in Weekender’s favour – great performances all round, with especially pleasing turns from the leads and the friendly characters around them. Lloyd-Hughes, O’Connell and Emily Barclay really get you onside for every moment that they’re onscreen while Ben Batt deserves praise for his menacing turn as John Anderson, believably smooth-talking while heading up plenty of rough tactics. The script is full of good humour and fun moments, the soundtrack is great and the direction from Golden is just fine.
Sadly, the biggest thing working against Weekender is how we’ve seen it all before. From Shooting Fish to The Business to the aforementioned 24 Hour Party People to Human Traffic, there’s nothing here that doesn’t feel as if it has been lifted from elsewhere, blended and filtered into the mix and left alone before it could be fully transformed into anything new. Movies treading the same ground as other movies don’t necessarily end up being bad movies but, in this case, it just makes Weekender feel completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Fans of Life On Mars, etc will also enjoy seeing Dean Andrews in a small, fun role and there’s fun to be had with Stephen Wight, Tom Meeten, Iain McKee, Zawe Ashton and the others – it’s just not a movie you’d have to kick yourself for missing.
Weekender is showing on Thu 23 June and Sat 25 June in FILMHOUSE 1, tickets are £9 and you could do a lot worse.
DIRECTOR: KARL GOLDEN
STARS: HENRY LLOYD-HUGHES, JACK O’CONNELL, EMILY BARCLAY, BEN BATT
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX