Cornerhouse LiveWire Critic Jay Crosbie reviews Weekend
From the trailer alone, Weekend had me in a choke hold of interest. A poignant tale of two lovers spread out across a weekend is hardly material to revolutionise cinema. However, unlike something such as Like Crazy, the couple aren’t heterosexual, they’re homosexual. Homosexuality, like many other niches in society when projected onto the silver screen tend to fall into tedious stereotypes; the camp gay, the sassy black woman etc. However, Weekend succeeds on so many levels because instead of playing to stereotypes, it builds a tale that you can (regardless of sexuality, race or religion) project yourself on to. Weekend surprisingly takes place over a weekend. Russell, after a drunken gathering with his heterosexual friends goes to a gay club and meets Glen. After a drunken one-night stand, we see a brief encounter turn in a monolithic emotional romance confined into two days.
Andrew Haigh is more commonly known for his editorial work in movies, working alongside directors such as Ridley Scott. His previous work gives him the edge when it comes to creating an intimate, tender atmosphere. I actually felt like I was in the room with both Russell and Glen, watching them like some sort of intruder. This intrinsic atmosphere makes the poignancy of the love slightly philosophical and ultimately allows the film’s climax to be a self-reflective experience.
However, I did find faults in brief sequences. For one I found the graphic sequences of physical intimacy to be rather unneeded, just like they were in Shortbus all those years ago. They lent towards the unnecessary due to the content. It ended up making the intimate atmosphere less intrinsic and more voyeuristic. Something, that I felt conflicted against the cause of the film.
Haigh uses the doom of a Monday deadline as a method to make everything seem so much more important than it actually is. We watch Russell choose shoes and do other such mundane activities and all of them feel important in some manner; possibly to build both Glen and Russell up as characters, which makes the final act of the film so much more important. Haigh squeezes everything you want them to say and know about each other out in some intimate, cocaine fueled climax. It means you not only care about which path each character takes but more importantly, it allows Haigh to treat you like a puppet and control your every emotion; something a good love story should do.
I could write an extended sociological essay on this film but I’m not going to divulge into those murky realms. I believe for Weekend to really work and transcend its niche genre it must achieve some form of breakout success. Weekend works by enabling people from other walks of life to embrace it equally. However, Haigh has created the best love story I’ve seen in years. It’s a work of someone who understands the bitter sweetness of love and the complex nature of society and more importantly the nature of human intimacy. I’ve not seen a film about two strangers this astonishingly engrossing since Lost In Translation and that’s one of the highest compliments I can pay.