Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekend (2011 film)

Written, edited, and directed by Andrew Haigh, Weekend is the story of two men who meet at a gay club where they have a one-night stand as it expands into a weekend together before one has to leave to go to the U.S. for a few years. The film is an exploration into the world of homosexuality set in the English Midlands as it revolves around the lives of these two men. Starring Tom Cullen and Chris New. Weekend is a low-key yet evocative film from Andrew Haigh.

The film is essentially about this man named Russell (Tom Cullen) who goes to a gay club one night where he meets this man named Glen (Chris New) as they have a one-night stand that expands into a weekend together as Glen is set to leave to attend a two-year art course in Portland, Oregon. During their time together, the two talk about homosexual relationships as Russell dwells on the fact that he never knew his parents while Glen is still reeling from a breakup he had just gone through. All of this in the course of one weekend where the two forge a moment that neither men will never forget. That is simply the premise of a film that doesn’t play into the conventions of most relationship films in order to find some sort of realism.

Andrew Haigh’s screenplay doesn’t really have much of a structure as it is carried mostly by dialogue where it’s about these two men and their different lives as one of them is unsure about having a homosexual relationship while another is having a hard time about coming out. The dialogue also reveals the world of homosexual relationships where there’s still places where it doesn’t seem to be accepted as both men definitely have issues with being more open but also don’t want to go into heartbreak. Yet, they’re drawn to each other for the fact that they have something to offer that was different from anything they’ve been through. Even though relationship lasts a weekend, it becomes one that has both men finding some kind of hope into the world.

Haigh’s direction is told in a minimalist, cinema verite style where it is presented with hand-held cameras and is shot in various locations in Nottingham. Haigh creates something that is very engaging in the way he presents the relationship from the scenes at Nottingham to the more intimate moments at Russell’s apartment. The direction as well as Haigh’s low-key yet stylish editing help plays out the drama that unfolds throughout the film such as a scene where the two have a heated discussion about relationships as well as the fact that Glen is leaving to go to the U.S. for a few years. Yet, Haigh manages to find a way for the film to end on a high note without delving into clich├ęs as the overall work is truly sensational as well as keeping it simple to create something is honest and direct.

Cinematographer Ula Pontikos does amazing work with the film‘s very stylish and naturalistic photography from the gorgeous look of the skylines and nighttime exterior scenes to the more simplistic moments in its daytime scenes. Production designer Sarah Finlay does nice work with the look of Russell‘s apartment to display the world that he lives in. The sound work of Tim Barker is wonderful for the intimacy that is created in the apartment scenes to the more raucous moments in its various locations including the fair where the two ride bumper cars. The film’s soundtrack largely consists of different kinds of music from house to folk as it’s mostly played on location.

The casting by Kahleen Crawford is brilliant for the small ensemble that is created as it features some noteworthy small performances from Jonathan Race as Russell’s friend Jamie and Laura Freeman as Glen’s friend Jill. Finally, there’s the duo of Tom Cullen and Chris New in their respective roles as Russell and Glen. Cullen and New each display marvelous performances as two men that don’t want to be defined but also not want to feel lost as Cullen displays a more low-key yet charming performance while New is more aggressive and humorous in his role as both men are really the highlight of the film.

Weekend is an extraordinary film from Andrew Haigh that features the superb performances of Tom Cullen and Chris New. The film is definitely a romantic film that doesn’t play into conventions while providing something that feels new and also real. It’s also a film that finally gives the homosexual love story something that is engaging without going into heavy drama. In the end, Weekend is a remarkable film from Andrew Haigh.

Andrew Haigh Films: (Greek Pete) - 45 Years - Lean on Pete

© thevoid99 2012


Anonymous said...

This little movie hasn't been reviewed a lot in the blogosphere as it deserves. It might very well end up on my top 10 of this year, though the competition is fierce. Glad to see that you liked it too!

Diana said...

I loved it, too, it's a great love story and an unconventional one, too. Wonderfully acted and realistic, it's definitely one of the best British films I have seen lately!

thevoid99 said...

@thevelvetcafe-I'm glad to help spread the word because this is a really good film.

@Diana-More love stories like this need to be made. Not ones with Katherine Heigl. Blech!

Anonymous said...

This movie is so intimate and personal in the way it’s shot and directed. Plus, you really buy into the developing relationship between the guys.

thevoid99 said...

@vinnieh-Exactly. I hope to revisit it soon as it is a damn good film.