How to Live in a Supposedly “Post-Gay” Society in "Weekend"

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 7, 2011

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Grade: B-

Like the heroes of Before Sunrise, Quiet City, In Bed, Room in Rome, Medicine for Melancholy and others, the would-be lovers of Andrew Haigh’s Weekend have a limited window in which to fuck, bond, fuck, argue, bond, fuck and go separate ways, leaving an ambiguous ending bordering on semi-optimistic. (In that order.) Nottingham lifeguard Russell (Tom Cullen) and aspiring artist Glen (Chris New) pick eachother up at a lame nightclub. A one night stand somewhat inevitably turns into a two night stand, with the two—as well as the actors playing them—quickly locating a palpable chemistry that produces fun larks as well as arguments over their chasmic differences.

Russell, soft-spoken but wry when properly coaxed, is a wallflower who maintains a mildly strained relationship with his straight friends and quietly makes do with a society that doesn’t want him engaging in PDAs. Glen, more militant, confronts homophobes, decries gay marriage as “feeding into the system” and is bound for America, which he imagines as far more tolerant to gays, unless they’re aboard Southwest Airlines. Weekend—which does not besmirch its Jean-Luc Godard classic namesake—offers a dialectic on how to live in a supposedly “post-gay” society: whether to accept the massive strides achieved in the last decade-plus (Russell) or continue to rebel, possibly with no end in sight (Glen).

Particularly in the classic Sundance days of the ’90s, it was standard for an indie to be “[a film staple], only gay,” and though Weekend is the gay addition to the canon of films depicting ephemeral love (or one of them), it only infrequently feels generic. Haigh, former assistant editor to Ridley Scott and others, knows how to do two things well: establish a naturalist vibe and make said naturalism look handsome. At once loose and finely judged, the shots give plenty of room for its actors to stretch out and define their characters in ways beyond words. The director, Cullen and especially New, who wobbles unpredictably between funny and fiery, make a dynamic trio, but even their powers aren’t strong enough to fully jazz up Haigh’s script, which must read like it came out the other end of a screenwriting program.

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