Having being criticized for stereotyping, the buzzed-about new gay film, Weekend, is guilty of said criticism, but it is so much more than that, and it deserves to be shared. Yes, many people will likely find the drug-and-alcohol-driven “hook-up” between the main, and for all intent, sole characters of British writer/director Andrew Haigh’s starkly filmed drama to be blase and beaten to a pulp. However those, and others, many of whom will undoubtedly relate to and perhaps shutter at the “hook-up,” should find Weekend a resonance of mirrored human nature, in all sexual proclivities of life.
In soft, yet impacting performances, Tom Cullen (Russell) and Chris New (Glen) forge an intrinsic bond over a 48-hour span, explicably through what is Haigh’s honest, instinctual script. Almost immediately we get a sense of Russell’s self-existence as he dresses halfheartedly for a party, flipping the top of a shoebox sheltering a new pair of Nikes, then huffing and casting the box aside. Subtle nuances like this, and the shot of a guilt-ridden text that simply reads ‘I feel like shit,’ riddle the film, and are what give it depth.
After deceptively excusing himself from his straight friends’ party, Russell frequents a gay club, where his demeanor alters to more self-confidence; a feeling of home and acceptance — and booze — build him up, attracting the beautiful, scruffy Glen. Cut to the morning after, inside Russell’s Nottingham apartment, naked Glen retrieves a tape recorder and interviews a nervous, boy-like Russell about the previous night’s sexual experience — ensuing a dialogue-heavy 90 minutes of breaking down barriers, extracting beliefs, sharing self-indulgent philosophies: “You know what it’s like when you first sleep with someone you don’t know,” says Glen, an artist, “you like become this blank canvas and it gives you an opportunity to project onto that canvas who you want to be.”
It’s almost fallible the connection between the melancholy, insecure Russell and the outspoken, personal-space-infringing Glen, or so that is what we want to believe; yet if we’re honest with ourselves, as the film, I feel, draws out, their connection is as real and common as any connection between two people.
Admittedly, the 2 a.m. drug-induced diatribe between Russell and Glen about gay rights (like having decorative gay gnomes) and anti-gay rhetoric, which oftentimes is highly argumentative within the gay community, tested my nerves. Of course I have experienced similar situations with friends, where in moments of alcohol-tinted clarity, we have the Nobel Peace Prize-winning answers to all the world’s calamities.
Speaking on friendships, Haigh points out in the film how friendships become “cemented,” which can be beneficial and detrimental at the same time: “I’m trying to redraw myself, but everyone keeps hiding my pencils,” Glen complains to Russell.
Weekend, in some circles, has been compared to Brokeback Mountain, and though it’s one of the most natural flowing films I’ve seen in quite some time, and was filmed in a two-week period, it’s not of the same caliber. But it’s still a triumphant film because, whether you want to embrace it or not, it runs deep.
Weekend opens at Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway, Oct. 28.