Weekend (18)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/11/2011

Opens Friday 04 November 2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an emotionally engaging and strikingly naturalistic romantic drama with terrific central performances from newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete), Weekend stars Tom Cullen as Russell, an out-to-his-friends gay man who picks up Glen (Chris New) in a nightclub and takes him home for a one night stand. The next morning, Glen asks Russell to speak about their experiences on tape for an art project and the two men gradually get to know each other and wind up spending most of the weekend together. However, though both develop unexpectedly strong feelings for each other, their burgeoning relationship is hampered by the fact that Glen is meant to be leaving the country on Sunday evening.

The Good
Cullen and New are both terrific, generating strong chemistry and creating believable, well rounded characters; their interaction is extremely engaging, whether it's their initial awkward morning-after conversation or their shared piss-taking sense of humour as their relationship develops.

The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Ula Pontikos, who adopts an extraordinarily naturalistic, documentary-like style that works perfectly. This is heightened by the exceptional, sharply observed dialogue, which, though scripted, feels completely organic and true throughout, particularly when the two men discuss their different experiences (e.g. Russell is obsessed with other people's coming-out stories because as an orphan, he's never been able to come out to his parents).

The Great
While on the one hand, Weekend is bracingly original, there are also some intriguing shades of other films: for example, the conversational structure recalls Before Sunrise while there are echoes of Sex, Lies and Videotape in Glen's art project. In addition, the film is both achingly romantic (the final scene is superbly well directed) and there are some extremely moving scenes, most notably Glen offering to role-play a coming-out scene for Russell (a perfectly judged, wonderfully sweet moment that could have gone badly wrong).

Worth seeing?
Beautifully acted and impressively directed, Weekend is a powerfully emotional, warm hearted and stunningly naturalistic romantic drama that deserves to be seen by both gay and straight audiences alike. It also marks out writer-director Andrew Haigh as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 04/11/2011 06:48

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