9 out of 10
Release Date: 4th November 2011
Director: Andrew Haigh (45 Years)
Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race, Loretto Murray and Laura Freeman
Writer: Andrew Haigh
This is easily the freshest love story to emerge from the UK in a very long time. Improving on teen gay love story; Beautiful Thing; from the late 90s, Weekend bristles with confidence and honesty. Russell (TOM CULLEN – THE LAST DAYS OF MARS) picks up Glen (CHRIS NEW) at a club and what starts out as a one-night stand turns into something more significant. The natural acting partnership between the two previously unknown actors is the winning key to this expertly written, yet low key drama. The emotions are on beat and the characters are identifiably real but this is not Ken Loach gritty, or Mike Leigh hysterical, it’s just right. Everything works (well I have to hold my hands up to admit that the two major sex scenes were a bit too full-on for me) from the funny, awkward, thoughtful dialogue. Russell is the shyer, perhaps more sensitive of the two who believes that his homosexuality isn’t something to shout about. He’s keen to lead the life he wants to away from the spotlight and not to go on some radical pro-gay rampage. Chris is quite the opposite, having made a reputation for himself by being quite confrontational about his sexuality. Several encounters throughout the movie show him as being unapologetic for his love of choice. He has also endured bad relationships in the past and is not looking for a boyfriend.
The whole ‘will they won’t they’ scenario is played out gently over the titular weekend, and lovers of traditional romantic movies won’t feel short changed by the bucking of a well known race against time staple. Meta yet funny dialogue enables the scene to succeed and because of the amazing performances it plays to perfection.
My only quibble was that the characters were still quite likeable after snorting about a KFC family bucket’s worth of cocaine up their noses. Also how come a volunteer at the local art gallery and a lifeguard have that kind of money. It is not at all possible! No wonder Russell populates his 14th storey council flat with charity shop furniture! Beyond these stupid quibbles, you’ll have to go a long way to unearth a better and more honest film. I’m not gay, I like boobies, but I’m certain that this is an important film for anyone who’s ever came out of the closet and for those that know that being gay is a big deal. Regardless of your sexuality, love is universal and this is one relationship that you want to see work.
9 out of 10 – The bitchiness tempers the sweetness of this wonderful love story. The Nottingham locales are also well lensed making the city a vibrant third character. Worthwhile if you have a quitet Sunday afternoon to yourself. I’m hoping the director/writer Andrew Haigh goes far. Highly recommended.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Tom Cullen: Black Mountain Poets, A Hundred Streets, Desert Dancer, Downton Abbey (TV), Last Days On Mars