How long does it take to fall in love with someone? Does love at first sight exist? Can a simple shag lead to much, much more? Writer/director Andrew Haigh effectively poses these questions in his new film Weekend.
After spending a drunken night together, Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) notice that an initial flirtation leads to something more substantial. The only problem sees that Glen is departing indefinitely to America in a couple of days. Deciding to forgo most of their scheduled commitments, the two spend the remaining time together and their relationship rapidly develops. Their difference in personal lifestyle choices create necessary narrative conflict, but also seems irrelevant as the relationship is working at its own accelerated speed.
Establishing the strong chemistry between the two main characters is extremely difficult and one not without challenges. Both risky and ambitious in his aspirations, Haigh manages to create a connection of sorts, but does not pull it off flawlessly. There is an awkwardness and tension between the two which works in some moments but not consistently so. While it is hard to believe that such an unstoppable force exists between the two relative strangers, both actors work well with what they are given. Particular credit should be given to relative newcomer Tom Cullen who gives an impressive and effective performance as Russell.
Sex scenes compliment the bold and uncompromising dialogue as well as exhibiting a particular tenderness at the same time. Much of Weekend is explicit in its dialogue, which is interestingly contradicted alongside the silence and stillness of its storytelling. A lack of sound often envelops the film, leaving the two leading men as the primary source of attention.
Themes of sexuality and public perceptions feature as part of Weekend’s storytelling, but do not dominate it, thankfully leaving the strong bond as the main focus. Discussions surrounding publicly gay versus closeted see an awkward moment in the film’s storytelling, and an awkward moment in the developing relationship, which is of course overshadowed by the overwhelming love story. Connections and how we go about avoiding and confronting our reticence toward them are where Weekend‘s strengths lie. Seemingly located in a gay sphere, Weekend is not necessarily specific to gay audiences, although it is imaginable that it may be slated as so. Occupying the personal, Weekend is emotionally deep and moving despite not reaching its desired heights.
Weekend opens in Australia on January 26 through Rialto Distribution.