Weekend, written, directed and edited by Andrew Haigh, is a gently nuanced, poignant film about an attachment that forms between two strangers who meet one night when neither is looking for love. The worst fate for this film would be if it suffered from an unfounded judgment call. Pigeonholing this film as a boy-meets-boy romance would be a dire mistake, as we rarely see such care given to gay love stories in wide release. The winner of the Audience Award Emerging Visions at SXSW, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film and Best Actor (Tom Cullen) at the Nashville Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize for International Feature at OutFest Los Angeles, Weekend is a film that will resonate regardless of sexual orientation, gender or politic.
Starring Chris New and Tom Cullen, their roles are so natural that watching their interactions feels almost intrusive, the connection explored here is real, relatable and proves undeniable for both. Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glenn (Chris New) feel an intense attraction to each other as each embodies what the other is lacking in themselves. Glenn is a confrontational charmer who can incite intense debate with anyone about almost any topic, and isn’t afraid to wield an opinion. Russell isn’t the complete opposite, but he is more cautious when it comes to fully embracing an ‘out’ lifestyle. The direction that their union takes shifts them both closer to completion and growth.
With a dialogue driven script that teeters between comedy and melodrama, what we get from Haigh is high caliber filmmaking akin to Cassavettes free form. His vérité style echoes a type of voyeurism where Haigh is content to keep the camera at a distance and the characters out of focus so that the subtleties of becoming acquainted can organically emerge.
The success in Weekend resides in capturing the magnetic urgency of love and inexplicable attraction then translating it into a low energy, calming film that is almost devoid of climax. On the surface it seems like nothing of great importance transpires in the events over the weekend that Russell and Glenn spent together. But with a closer look, it is evident that Haigh’s intention is to surge the characters towards their arch, as they push and pull each other into change.
It happens, and we see it, ever so slightly and tastefully executed in the bittersweet end.