The true connection of two people, regardless of gender, is a beautiful thing. Straight, gay, lesbian, trans-gender, or whatever they are, it doesn’t matter. Love is a beautiful thing, especially when it approaches you unexpected. Richard Linklater explored this in his films Before Sunset and Before Sunrise. Two complete strangers meet by chance in Vienna and fall in love instantly. The film itself is beautiful as are its characters and situations. Up until I saw it, I never thought that a film full of dialogue let alone two of them would be so intriguing and heartbreaking.
Recently, I heard about a movie called Weekend. It had a similar premise as Before Sunset/Sunrise, so instantly I was hooked on it. Then when I heard it explored the brief relationship between two men, I was even more interested in how it would be executed. I searched for the film high and low only to find it on my TV in the On-Demand menu. I rented it immediately and dove right in.
Weekend opens on a gay man named Russell (Tom Cullen). He hangs out with a couple of his straight friends whom he gets along with just fine (don’t worry this isn’t one of those, “Oh I feel out of place” kind of films). When he sets off, he decides to stop at a local gay club. He has a couple of drinks and catches the eyes of Glen (Chris New). The two have a one-night stand, and in the morning begin talking. They continue to talk for a while until Glen leaves. Now, in most cases of one-night stands, this is the end of the movie, but instead, Russell calls Glen and asks to hang out. Thus begins a romance that is short-lived yet unforgettable.
Weekend is a lot of things, but boring is definitely not one of them. Though the film is 95% dialogue, it’s not filler dialogue by any means. We slowly get to know these characters at the same time that they’re getting to know each other. We know what they know and it really puts you in their shoes in a way that I’ve never seen before. This effect is also due to director Andrew Haigh’s skilled camera work, being both an observer and a participant in the relationship of Russell and Glen.
The acting is perfect on the part of both actors, but especially by Chris New, who portrays Glen. Both Cullen and New have not yet had any major roles prior to this, and this is a shock to me considering how comfortable and honest they seem with their parts. Part of me thinks that a lot of it wasn’t rehearsed which made it all seem that much more fresh to not only us, but also them.
Of course, an actor is only as good as their dialogue, and as I’ve mentioned before, the dialogue is pretty amazing. Ringing true in almost every aspect, Weekend is not only a film for gay men and women to relate to. It’s a film for those who believe in love, and for people who are willing to see things in a different light. It’s a movie about people, for people and it’s almost more relatable than Before Sunset. As a film about the chance encounters that occur in life, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. As a film in general, it’s one of the best and most underrated of 2011. Come awards season, this probably won’t be on the list, but if it is, it’s a step forward to recognizing great films for being exactly that. Great films.