There were big movies with big budget, big ideas, big egos, big everything that you’d forgot the moment you exit the theater to eat your post-movie meal. But there are small movies with small budget, simple ideas, yet gives a great impact and you ended up rewatching it over and over again on the Blu-Ray you bought. For me, Weekend was one of those. The premise was simple, boy meet boy, fall in love, boy must leave, leaving an indefinite future for the two boys…
Meet Russell (Tom Cullen) an average british lad, going to a gay bar after he hung out with at his best friends house on Friday. He met Glen (Chris New) an out and proud artist who had an art project of conducting interviews with his one-night stand partners about sex and the experience they had shared the night before. The two connects in ways more than just sex. Which was unexpected turn of events for both parties. Until Glen dropped the bomb, he had to leave for a two year art course in Oregon USA.
The film opens by following Russell as he prepared to go to his best friend’s house, interacts with others, and his impromptu detour to a gay bar. It was presented in such way that it felt voyeuristic, especially since some point of view made me feel like i’m stalking him across the city really. Without so much dialogue but several (awkward) exchange with his friends circle we get a pretty decent picture of Russell as a person. In the morning after, we learned that Russell went home with Glen, whom he met at the bar. Glen recorded somekind of post-one-night-stand interview with Russell (who already gave his consent the previous night) detailing the encounters and recounting their night together. From then on they spend more times together, from which we started to understand the dynamics of the two. Russell is out, but not really out and proud, he’s shy and reserved, and sort of isolate himself from the outside. While Glen is out, proud, and outrightly outspoken. But during the course of the movie we also understand that Russell is actually brave and he knows what he wants in life but Glenn is more afraid to put his heart out and generally confuse as what he wants to do with his life.
In a lot of ways the movie pleasantly reminds me of Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1999) and Before Sunset (2004) and probably Before Midnight (2013), but i have not watch the last one yet. So it was very interesting to see the exchanges happening between the two characters. The natural conversation flowed between the two must be credited to the improvisation done by the two actors (under the careful direction from writer/director Andrew Haigh, of course it is also a testament of the chemistry between the two leads), which elevate the realism of the film style itself. There are no huge events happening on screen, but we can see there are significant changes within the personal life of the two characters.
Russell: Have I got morning breath?
Glen: No, quite the contrary. Have you brushed your teeth?
Glen: I can smell toothpaste
Glen: Now you’ve broken an unwritten rule, because now you smell all minty fresh and i smell like cock and bum.
Ula Pontikos as the cinematographer deliver a beautiful pictures in muted coloring, enriching the overall mood and atmosphere of the film. The framing and angle also help emulates certain mood and emphasis. For example the shot above was taken from a voyeuristic point of view, as if the viewer actually in the same space, looking at the two characters from a semi hidden vantage point. Fly on the wall, perhaps, is the best way to describe the overall style. Even their sex scene was not over-romanticize or over-sexualize, yet it is still graphic, which i love because it felt more realistic and depicting the intimacy of such moment (the cum on belly was just making such a statement for me). One of the most interesting thing Haigh did in the film, was to add this unknown person, screaming profanity at both Russell and Glen at the (somewhat) beginning of the movie and at the end. In these scenes we can see the drastic changes of Russell behaviour towards outsider, showing his emotional evolution and self acceptance.
Weekend for me is such an non stereotypical movies about homosexual love, it’s not a new queer cinema material either. This second feature length film of Andrew Haigh has delivered a rare material that become my personal standard of LGBT films. It was unapologetic and raw in some sense, yet there was a relatable quality to it that basically speak of ‘Love is Love’. It is a rare movie that’s honest, intimate, and engaging. A heartfelt romance that speaks volumes in its quiet delivery. A film i want to cuddle with under the blanket, a definite personal favorite.
Weekend has been released on BluRay and DVD, as well as a spceial Criterion edition with spine # 622.
GENRE Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR Andrew Haigh | PRODUCER Tristan Goligher | WRITER Andrew Haigh | MUSIC James Edward Barker | CINEMATOGRAPHER Ula Pontikos | EDITOR Andrew Haigh | STUDIO Synchronicity Films | DISTRIBUTOR Sundance Selects, Pecadillo pictures | COUNTRY United Kingdom | RELEASE November 4th, 2011 (UK) | RUNNING TIME 97 minutes | BUDGET £ 120,000 | RATING Unrated: use of drugs, binge drinking, profanity, and graphic sexual acts
STARRING Tom Cullen, Chris New