Finally, a film that takes gay men and their relationships seriously. Thank you, Weekend, for telling it how it really is.
Thank goodness we don’t have to rely on Hollywood or indy US movies to tell gay stories on the big screen. If we did, all we’d see would be earnest ‘issue-based’ films that deal with discrimination, AIDS, coming out, first love or break taboos. Oh yes, there’s a place for them; it’s important that wider audiences sees these films, and the indy US films provide plenty of fodder for gay and lesbian film festivals and DVD releases the world over.
But thank goodness for the British film Weekend.
Writer/director Andrew Haigh presents a simple story about two gay men, Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), who pick each other up at a nightclub on a Friday night, and go back to Russell’s flat. It’s as they navigate that awkward ‘morning after’ dance that the connection is really made. And while the men acknowledge it was a fun, one-night-only thing – Glen is leaving for the United States on Sunday – Russell can’t help but think about Glen at work, and they catch up again later that afternoon. And the bond begins to strengthen.
What makes Weekend a remarkable and intelligent film is that it doesn’t try to be clever, or seminal, or groundbreaking. It’s just a story about love, loneliness and unexpected emotions. It’s told in a detached, matter-of-fact way that makes it incredibly powerful and poignant.
Cullen and New don’t perform their characters – they inhabit them naturally and completely believably, both as individuals and as a couple. There is a beautiful, relaxed intimacy between them; something that is immediately recognisable, and strangely enough, very rare in the depiction of gay lovers on screen. Hollywood especially steers clear of both man-on-man sex and intimacy. Weekend has some frank, not explicit, sex scenes and discussions about gay sex, but they’re never gratuitous or shocking. Like the connection between Russell and Glen, they’re presented as natural and sensitive, and for that reason, this is not a film about two men in love, but a film about the universality of falling in love, regardless of sexuality and gender.
Over the weekend, Russell and Glen discuss the nature of being gay, how they present themselves publicly, and how they feel they’re perceived by the wider world. It’s insightful and enlightening, but never didactic or preachy.
And while the film’s ending is inevitable, it doesn’t stop the final scenes from being incredibly moving. Well, they certainly affected me quite deeply.
Weekend is the type of gay story we need to see in films now. It’s time to move on from coming-out tales, and into mature and articulate stories like this. Gay filmmakers, take note please…