Early into Weekend one of its characters, Glen (Chris New), voices his frustrations about a project he’s made. It’s centered on audio interviews with the men he’s slept with. They discuss their thoughts on the process and about each other. He fears that the heterosexual population won’t listen, that they’ll avoid it completely.
“Gay people never talk about it in public unless it’s cheap innuendo”. Such is the debate with Weekend, an independent British film that focuses on a one-night stand between two men, and a seemingly limited relationship that becomes something special.
Though the film resides in a category that is often passed on by the general population, the struggle its characters face is a universal one. It’s a film that transcends its queer designation.
Russell (Tom Cullen) is alienated in a heterosexual world. The camera focuses on him throughout the film’s opening, which sees him at parties with his straight friends, and at work with his straight colleagues.
He’s within and without – simultaneously surrounded by people, yet alone. He studies the couples around him, the peers that discuss the explicit details of nights spent with women, and wanders through his routine having internalized his thoughts and desires. Russell is out, but he’s kept his feelings in the closet. He shares his life with no one.
After a night fueled by a heavy dose of liquid courage, Russell wakes up next to Glen, and the events that drive Weekend are set into motion. The dynamic between the two men empowers this film to become something relatable. Where Russell struggles with his identity, but believes in finding love, Glen is comfortable with himself and his impulses, but wishes only for sex and nothing more.
Despite their differing views, Russell and Glen are drawn to each other. The film follows them through two days, and as their relationship flourishes.
Weekend’s aesthetic is perhaps its most refreshing trait. It’s devoid of Hollywood glamour and its camera moves freely, having no shame in showing some of the more risqué moments between the two men. This is perhaps where audiences may be inclined to tune out, but the scenes are brief and the approach tasteful. Educated moviegoers will see hints of Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy laced throughout the film’s plot, and natural filmmaking approach.
These characters and their surroundings feel real and nothing seems contrived. There are also some echoes of Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love in a quirky, but touching scene which sees Russell going through the motions of coming out to his father, but having Glen play the opposite role.
All in all, Weekend is a thoughtful and relatable film. Though the use of drugs and brooding tone are some of the less desirable remnants of an otherwise memorable piece of cinema, the questions that Weekend poses and the struggles its characters face are ubiquitous.
What to Watch Next: Boyhood, The Grandmaster, Shame.