Film Review: An Underwhelming… Weekend (2011)

July 13, 2013 1:36 pm

To state an opinion about Weekend (2011) turns out to be harder than it seems. Especially since it has been lauded as a wonderful surprise and one of the best movies of the year in every major review it received. One feels that they’ve missed something since recommendations as enthusiastic and sincere are normally a good pointer when it comes to indie-films. However, Weekend‘s left me feeling underwhelmed.

weekendIn a seemingly simple story, Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) spend the eponymous weekend in Nottingham together following what should’ve been just another one-night stand. Their clashing characters grow and adapt around one another as the light morning-after chat turns into a two day exploration of their views on the meaning of relationships, their own identity and their attitudes to society. Such topics would be a slippery ground for a filmmaker of any calibre but second-timer (director, writer and editor) Andrew Haigh doesn’t crumble in the face of this challenge. The dialogue is nicely developed and never turns condescending for the viewer. But it isn’t exciting or intriguing. And after an hour it becomes somewhat dull in its attempted realism.

Still, it’s the plot that damages Weekend most. For a majorly underplayed movie, a plot twist that sees one of the main characters moving to the USA in two days is an unnecessary and overblown distraction from the heart of the story. (As is the dubious reasoning behind making the other a foster-care child.) So instead of being able to calmly enjoy the poignancy of two people who are not meant for each other find ways around their conflicting characters to make their relationship grow, Russell and Glen’s serenity at the coming separation makes the viewer unable to make out what exactly they will lose when they are separated. Their laxness with the time that’s running out makes the story lose momentum, if in fact one could say it ever gains momentum. And in order for it to leave you even slightly emotional at the end, the film should offer more.

While Weekend is a lovely jab at toying with eternally unanswerable questions within the familiar framework, its reluctance to offer the hope of Russell and Glen’s future meeting is a safe cop out. If the guys just decided to give their relationship a go, it might’ve turned out to be a cheesy ending. Haigh should’ve risked a rection either way because this way the story just flatlined.

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