Weekend: "Why Don't I Pretend To Be Your Dad And You Can Come Out To Me"

Director: Andrew Haigh
Writer:    Andrew Haigh 
Starring: Tom Cullen
               Chris New
               Laura Freeman
               Vauxhall Jermaine
Rating:    ***** 

Home Release: Out Now

Weekend is a low-budget, melancholy look at three days in the life of two strangers who find themselves pushed together: it's a boy-meets-boy love story spread over a single weekend, and filmed with a kind of real-time realism that creates an urban and gritty mood for the story. There is an underlying sadness here, as well as a blossoming romance, and a sense that sexual experience is not just exciting on it' its own, but it;s the start of an adventure in defining a persons sense of self: what one character in the film calls finding both your partner and yourself as a blank slate. Weekend has something urgent to say to both gay and straight audiences about the small windows of opportunity in our lives, and how big an impact the can have.

Russell (Cullen) is a gay guy in his 20s who seems happy enough. We meet him first at a party being thrown by his straight friends, who have kids. It's a Friday night, so he leaves early, to his hosts' disappointment, claiming to be tired, but in reality he's looking for a bit of fun and on his way home stops off at a gay bar. It's here he meets Glen (New), who works at the local art gallery, and is also looking for a weekend of fun. They go home together for what both assume will be a fleeting, pleasurable fling. But when the morning arrives, their conversation continues, and they begin to wonder if they might have a future together. But first off, they have to make some decisions on the subject of marriage and what they want from life in the first place, and they soon discover they have far less time to make these decisions than they thought.

Russell is gentle, thoughtful, and quiet; Glen is bold, confident and a little confrontational in his need to make public his gay identity. In these roles, Tom Cullen and Chris New give wonderfully relaxed and utterly convincing performances, very well directed by Haigh. It is the kind of film-making that looks easy, but is actually far from it. For a lot of the time, nothing much is actually happening, but at the same time the everything is happening; no matter how little the action is each scene is filled with emotion and thoughtfulness. Glen and Russell are hanging out, or drinking, or doing drugs, or having sex, and all these activities have a raw and important factor to the story and reality to them.

Normally a cinematic release that covers this type of topic would have included a scene that involved gay-bashing, but Haigh takes what looks like a conscious decision to steer clear of this particular dramatic plot twist. Admittedly their are a few heated scenes, like when Glen yells at some teens spouting homophobic abuse from Russell's 14th-floor window, and on a railway platform, and he also gets into a row with a straight guy in a pub; but it never becomes violent or overly aggressive. Haigh's concern is always to refocus the audiences attention to a much more low-key scenario, but despite how subtle the film is, it manages to become far more sensational than if it had been in your face and brash. It's all about how Glen and Russell, two very different men, are going to work out their problems and find love. It is a tender, humane film, with an easy, unforced lesson to be learnt: a film that doesn't need to try too hard, but manages to teach you everything you need to know.

Weekend - Trailer