Jan 5, 2014

[Movies] Weekend (2011)

The world of LGBT movies is a weird one filled with some great stories and some really sad attempts at the same. LGBT movies really shouldn't be a single drama all lumped together, but until views advance this is the reality that we face.

This movie got a lot of buzz when it first came out but it took me this long to get around to watching it, which is sort of a shame. Weekend is definitely one of the better ones out there, even though it does sort of borrow from drama movies of a similar tone, I feel. But this does not take away from the brilliance of the experience, and so I'm glad for this being one of the first LGBT movie reviews that I'm posting for the year.

This movie is a bit of a talkie, which I suppose is also typical of may gay drama films. But at least the writing is strong enough to really bring the characters to life and give the story some real substance overall. And that's what really carries this movie - the skills of the two actors and the chemistry that they are able to portray on screen.

Synopsis: Weekend is a 2011 LGBT British romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh. The movie has received numerous awards and nominations from various film festivals around the world.

After a house party with friends, Russell (Tom Cullen) decides to hit a gay club in search of a little action. There he encounters student artist Glen (Chris New) and the two hit it off and eventually go home to Russell's apartment. After they have sex, Glen prompts Russell to talk about the night's experience as part of an art project that he works on. At first Russell is reluctant, but Glen pushes that it was the only reason they hooked up in the first place. Thus the interview finally gets underway as they bask in the post-coital moment. After Glen leaves, Russell writes about the experience as well, which is part of a little side project of his own.

The next day the two hang out again and have even more conversations about their respective lives and views of things. Glen is rather jaded and insists that he's not at a point in his life when he can handle a relationship and Russell talks about the fact that he was orphan. The two continue to swap stories and become closer and have another encounter together. When Glen finally leaves, he invites Russell to a send-off party his friends have put together to mark his leaving for America for an art course. And there's the little detail that he's leaving the country tomorrow.

The fact that this movie centers around a lot of interesting conversations between two people who just met sort of brings to mind movies like Before Sunrise, in a way. It's not like this is a carbon copy of that, but there are strong similarities, and that's also a lot of what works about this movie. When you strip everything away and just focus on two actors bringing two characters to life, the result can be pretty brilliant when done well.

And the characters of Russell and Glen don't even seem like two guys who'd get along at first glance. Russell is fairly sweet but also very lonely given his current lot in life. Glen seems to be hiding behind his intellectual talk and artistic leanings given his past trauma and relationship regrets. But then things just seem to click between the two and how this story slowly unfolds is a bit of movie magic in itself.

This was a movie done right on a number of levels starting from the writing down to the casting. It's a movie with few frills and just focuses on the story and that helped keeps it rather refreshing compared to a lot of the flashier movies out there. And the ending isn't a fairy tale one either - it's one that remains fairly grounded in reality and yet doesn't leave you feeling like you got cheated out of something. After all, the entire movie takes place over the course of a single weekend - only so much can happen.

Weekend is definitely one of those romantic dramas that will stick with you for a long time, whether we're talking about gay characters or not. I felt it was well worth the experience and it rates a well-deserved 5 seemingly crazy notions thrown out by Glen out of a possible 5.

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