Thursday, November 3, 2011


"Weekend" by Andrew Haigh is built on strong acting and Urszula Pontikos' careful, brilliant cinematography that works well to pierce the viewer. It follows a guarded lifeguard named Russell (Tom Cullen, in a gloriously natural performance), as he begins to form a relationship with Glen (Chris New, also very good), an outspoken, high concept artist who makes works concerned with sexuality. Russell is looking for a boyfriend to alleviate his loneliness, whereas Glen has just gotten out of something very messy and believes himself unfit for such romances. But wherever they stand on what will ultimately come of things, the two see that they fit together with an unparalleled chemistry.

This territory has been mined before, and "Weekend" is hardly groundbreaking in terms of plot structure. What sets it apart is Haigh's superb execution of his excellent script. The film says a lot about what it means to be gay right now and how suffocating the secrecy even those out are privy to. One of the film's most powerful images, a long-range view of Russell's apartment building with activity only occurring in his flat, not only underscores the intimacy at the center of the story, but also emphasizes the isolation of gays as a minority group.

The movie would also fall short without its lead performers, who invigorate the material and draw the necessary emotions to give the film a startling impact. "Weekend" does has its flaws: one scene in particular, involving Glen's roommate Jill (Laura Freeman), drags mightily and should have been revised by Haigh. But the film is a tremendous character study with some of the most vital character observation this year has had to offer. B+

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