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Movie Review: WEEKEND (2011)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • November 16, 2012 • Start the Discussion!

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Three Days and Three Nights in Marz

A proposition for a Queer Cinema elective for the MOPA program by Seanna McPherson and Ki Wight brings to mind one of the genre’s finest examples from last year called Weekend (2011). It is the sophomore feature by UK director Andrew Haigh who cut his teeth as an assistant editor on Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) and Black Hawk Down (2001) and then returned to his home base to capture this intimate Nottingham-set indie about two men who have a one-night stand and must decide how far they will allow their hearts to take them. It is in the same class of such smart, relatable and poignant modern-day romances like Medicine for Melancholy (2008) and The Myth of the American Sleepover (2011). To be more specific with the matter at hand, Weekend is as sweet as Stephen Frears’ Prick Up Your Ears (1987) is sour.

Russell (Tom Cullen), a reserved young municipal pool lifeguard, puts himself out one night at a club and runs off with Glen (Chris New), an extroverted artist who channels his personality to keep people from getting too close. He doesn’t do boyfriends or good-byes for that matter. After a night of sex, they keep finding more opportunities to hang out together. Their personalities are made to clash; yet they complement each other in ways that challenge their fears and ideals further. There is a refreshing frankness about their homosexuality that makes Russell and Glen into very specific and fully realized lovers.

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There is an indispensable fly-on-the-wall effect that allows us to observe what it would be like for Russell and Glen. The issue of being gay in public is almost always pertinent. Their conversations carry a grounded weight without force. Whenever Russell goes outside, he is alert to a quiet and palpable tension of homophobia coursing through the urban streets. The insidious discrimination is felt even if Russell is within an earshot of a bashing indifferent to him. There is a scene of vile whistling and hollering from off-screen that will make your blood boil. At one point Glen relates a sad story to Russell with a sarcastic cover-up, which Russell unveils the awful truth thereof, “That’s awful, Glenn!” It is a good illustration of how compassionate recognition can carry a searing aftereffect.

The vitality of Weekend is embedded into it without any of the trappings of an *Important Movie*. This is because the movie is primarily a love story facing a deadline – it’s titled Weekend for a reason. It is unlikely they’ll ever see each other again if Glen follows through with his plans to study abroad in America (Eat your heart out, Like Crazy, 2011!). What remains more fully are select gestures including a spontaneous ride they share together on a single bike as well as a quick retreat from a group gathering to a private excursion of eating cotton candy and riding bumper cars. The security and love expressed between them in private is what diminishes their gravest concerns outside. Finally, there is the bittersweet song “Marz” by John Grant that is heartbreaking at the right point.

The two days spent in Russell and Glen’s company will be the most satisfying romance you will see in the next while. Weekend (2011) was selected and released a few months ago on DVD by the good people at Criterion.

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WEEKEND (2011) Trailer

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