Director: Andrew Haigh
Studio: Glendale Picture Company
‘The morning after’ has been a staple of Hollywood romantic films for decades now. Do the two partners find a connection beyond the physical? Do they run the other way? Is it a brief encounter or does it lead to something longer lasting?
Writer-director Andrew Haigh’s low budget, Mumblecore-y, highly accomplished Weekend, a deserved film festival breakout hit, strikes many familiar chords but even more unexpected and rather astonishing, even radical ones. The setup is simple. Tom Cullen plays a likeable, wary U.K. bloke who works as a lifeguard at a public pool and mostly hangs out with straight friends, including his best childhood buddy. After drinking and dancing at a gay club, he wakes up alongside a bright, jokey, complicated aspiring artist played by Chris New, who whips out a tape recorder and expects his bed partner to detail every aspect of their sexual encounter. They spend the weekend together and, amid drugs, sex and a lot of conversation, hammer away at their own complicated issues about marriage, commitment and the difficulty of living for very long with another person. They find something deeper and more elusive than either was looking for.
There’s a terrific moment when New’s character talks about his nebulous art project but could almost be talking about the movie he is in: “Gays will only come because they’re hoping to see some cock and they’ll be disappointed. And straights won’t come won’t come because it’s about gay sex. They’ll come to see things about famine, rape, disease, whatever. But not gay sex—not that!” Precisely. To slot Weekend as a “gay movie” would be as reductive as it would be to write it off as just a “Brit movie” on an “indie movie.”
Beautifully shot and constructed, acted with charm, skill and candor, full of bristly, tender moments that appear “found,” it’s an intelligent, funny, touching romantic movie set in a constricted time and place, like Before Sunrise. But even that’s misleading. Weekend is its own thing—and a sharp, simple and quietly revelatory thing it is.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.