By Darren Grant
Tom Cullen (as Russell) and Chris New (as Glen)
The Big Picture
Writer/Director: Andrew Haigh
Actors: Tom Cullen, Chris New
Genre: Indie, Gay Relationship Drama
Positives: Brilliant writing and engaging performances from the two leads makes this a breathtakingly real experience.
Negatives: It takes a while to get going, to build the characterisation. But, ultimately, the credibility comes along and it's worth the wait.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 - Engagingly real love story.
Two strangers meet and develop a love affair over the course of a single weekend. Nothing new there, you might observe. But this indie movie, from writer-director Andrew Haigh, has a personal depth and reality that takes it way beyond cliché.
On a Friday night after a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell (Tom Cullen) moves on to a gay club. The next morning he wakes up with Glen (Chris New), more outgoing, full of jokes, opinions and ideas that both disturb and engage his new friend. While they sip their coffee in bed, Glen pulls out a tape recorder and interviews Russell about the previous night’s encounter, as yet unseen by the audience.
Although strangers, they inevitably share a history of being gay, even if they differ on what that means to each of them. The differences between Glen and Russell provide the dramatic framework of the film. They disagree about gay marriage while Glen is more politically assertive than Russell, who resists making his sexuality a public issue. It's the friction between them that makes them such an interesting potential couple as they implicitly grapple with the carefully disguised questions we all carry with us. Am I enough? What are we supposed to do? How do we do it? What can I mean to another person? Who do I want to be?
A less honest movie would begin to supply the answers. But Haigh remains true to his portrayal of the open-ended nature of the experience he wishes to share, refraining from the easy dénoument of the cliché happy or tragic ending. Of course, Weekend is not narrowly a gay movie. Like all outstanding movies, it transcends its own story, embracing the hope we all have that a chance encounter might change our lives for the better and leaving us touched by one of the most satisfying love stories of this or any other year.
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