In the tradition of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset and Lost in Translation comes Weekend, a film about a chance encounter between two individuals and the deep and meaningful conversations they share. It sounds dull, I know, but as many will agree, the three films I just mentioned are all great pieces of cinema. Weekend is another worthy entry to this mini-genre.

Russell (Tom Cullen) hooks up with Glen (Chris New) at a nightclub in what one can only assume they both expected would be a one-night stand. Instead, the two men share a passionate weekend in each other’s company, talking about love, life and their hopes for the future.Weekend I really can’t enunciate clearly enough how this film is basically Before Sunrise except it replaces Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for Russell and Glen, and Vienna for London.

The two men are well suited to each other, even if they have wildly differing personalities. Russell is rather a rather insular quiet individual, whilst Glen is an aspiring installation artist who’s full of rage at a world that is keen to tout heterosexuality on every street corner but, at best, only accepts homosexuality as long as it’s hidden from the mainstream. Glen is even angry at gays like Russell, who don’t feel the need to announce their gayness to the world, but are rather passive in their day to day lives. This clash of ideals makes for an interest dynamic.

That’s not to say that Weekend should be considered a film solely concerned with ‘gay issues’, even if homophobia – disturbingly, but probably realistically – rears its ugly head more than once. First and foremost though, the film is a romance, and the chemistry between Cullen and New is palpable. For a film like this to work, the two leads need to have the acting ability to carry the entire narrative, and Cullen and New certainly achieve this under the skilled direction of Andrew Haigh. The film does drag ever so occasionally – some of the deep and meaningfuls have less impact than others – but for the most part the cinéma vérité style filmmaking doesn’t work against the enjoyment factor.

I’ve read online some complaints about the sound design (or lack thereof), though my preview copy of the film wasn’t too problematic. Sure, there are always moments in films such as these where the background noise can drown out the dialogue, but I didn’t feel I was ever missing anything too important (á la films such as Funny Ha Ha, for instance.)

Weekend is a beautifully romantic film boasting excellent performances from Cullen and New.

Rating: 4.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 25th January 2012
Hoopla Factor: 3.5 stars

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