Movie review: Weekend

By Peter Calder

Add a comment
Russell and Glen have striking character differences. Photo / Supplied
Russell and Glen have striking character differences. Photo / Supplied

An adult film in both senses - it's a film for grown-ups that features unselfconsciously explicit sex - this feature by Briton Andrew Haigh has been garlanded with awards from indie and gay festivals and it's not hard to see why. It turns its modest scale - the budget was less than $300,000 - into a virtue, creating a vivid, intense and intimate portrait of two people falling unexpectedly and scarily in love.

There are flashes of Before Sunrise and Brief Encounter here, even though those films' passions were never consummated and this one's is, rambunctiously and repeatedly. But all three films share a sense of the simultaneous abandon and uncertainty that has always been the lover's lot.

Set in Nottingham and confined to the title's couple of days, the film follows Russell (Cullen), who, after spending the evening with his (straight) best friends - he's the godfather to their daughter - heads for a gay club. Before we know it, it's morning and he's making coffee for Glen (New) in the poky bedroom of his tower block apartment. A casual encounter unexpectedly seems like something more, but there's a hitch: Glen is due to take up an arts residency in the United States and he's leaving on Monday.

The set-up creates a hothouse environment for a relationship to bloom. Building on the (slightly forced) conceit that Glen records interviews with gay men as part of an arts project, Haigh's script peels the layers from the pair, both as individuals and - maybe - a couple.

The warm chemistry between the two leads is abetted by their striking difference - the diffident Russell who sounds disarmingly like Martin Freeman (of The Office and The Hobbit) and the prickly Glen, whose swagger hides his own pain. As they converse, stalked by Ula Pontikos' sinuous and unobtrusive camerawork, they provide a wonderful sense of the complexity of relationships, in a milieu where casual sex is easy to find but love is more elusive.

There's a slightly preachy passage or two, a sense that we're being given Gay Perspectives 101. It's an indication perhaps of Haigh's anxiety that his film will not go down well in the arthouse mainstream. It deserves to: for broad-minded audiences, this is a striking and impressive film.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New
Director: Andrew Haigh
Running time: 97 mins
Rating: R16 (drug use, sex scenes, offensive language)
Verdict: Boy meets boy.

Check out the trailer for Weekend:

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 26 Jul 2014 19:52:35 Processing Time: 650ms