To Do List Loves… Weekend
Boy meets boy, boy tries to seduce boy at urinals, boys wake up together, boys do drugs… There’s not a travel bookshop or a blue door in sight – just a bitter-sweet tale of love lost and found. This is Weekend.
They say: “On a Friday night after hanging out with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a nightclub,
alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he picks up Glen. And so begins a weekend – in
bars and in bedrooms, getting drunk and taking drugs, telling stories and having sex – that will
resonate throughout their lives.”
We say: To Do List couldn’t believe it. The Covent Garden Odeon foyer was rammed, bursting at the seams with punters waiting to catch Weekend, the second feature film from director Andrew Haigh. Weekend premiered at the SXSW Film Festival back in March (winning the Emerging Visions Audience Award), and we’ve been hearing nothing but great things about it ever since. But this felt like the midnight screening of the latest Batman film – it was so great to see that essentially a low-budget, non-mainstream indie-film could attract such a massive audience. The cinema staff were clearly taken by surprise by the sheer numbers, and Loserville had to do a little sprint to get a good seat.
The signs were promising – during its US festival run, the film picked up the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor Award at the Nashville Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest in Los Angeles, in addition to its initial success at SXSW.
And finally, with the fab Peccadillo Pictures distributing, Weekend made its UK theatrical debut this month.
In the words of director Andrew Haigh, the main characters Russell and Glen (relative newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) “are two people navigating through life in very different ways but both are looking for same thing – to find their place within the world around them. They are trying to work out who they are, what they want and how they should define themselves, in private as well as in public.”
This is an honest, intimate and authentic love story, in the way that Richard Curtis films (note: I’m actually quite partial to Notting Hill) aren’t. There is no glamorisation of love here. Instead, Weekend is love at it’s most recognizable – surprising, occasionally painful, confusing, intoxicating… As Haigh puts it, “that feeling of both fear and excitement that comes with the possibility of something new.”
As Russell and Glen are thrown together by fate, and spend the weekend in each others company, we witness those awkward, tantalising moments as two people truly start to engage with one another, and through this engagement, begin to focus on the struggles each of them face.
This is a film with two central gay characters, but is not just a gay film. It is a story of two people coming to terms with difference, with not quite fitting in. Whilst this manifests itself in Weekend through sexuality, Haigh is clear that “you don’t need to be gay to be strugling with isses of authenticity and self-definition, and of course at the heart of Weekend is a story of two people falling in love with each other.”
For us, Haigh hits the target spot-on. This is a grown-up, honest, compelling account of love and life over the space of one (pretty drug-fuelled) weekend. Cullen and New are excellent as Russell and Glen, and the tone is refreshing – there are no last-minute chases to stop a wedding/stop someone from catching a plane/crash a press conference, although there are some witty references to such things.
Weekend is all about what actually happens, all the time. It’s about human nature, individuality, difference, and belonging. It’s about discovering who you are, and leaping into the unknown.
It’s pretty fucking great.
Weekend is out now on DVD
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.