Directed by Andrew Haigh
Dramas in which the action takes place over a day or two, or at least the good ones, are like representations of what the moviegoing experience can offer generally—moments that are denser, heightened, focused, more perceptive at the higher magnification. Weekend, the second feature directed by longtime editor Andrew Haigh, chronicles the hook-up and accelerated life cycle of the connection between two young Brits, Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New). It's a finely tuned, naturally embodied, and crisply shot chronicle of give and take, of the making (or possible unmaking) of something meaningful.
Russell is quiet, a pool lifeguard immersed in a friendly circle of hetero friends (he's also to be a godfather); his nondescript high-rise flat, its lit window a recurring image, comes to seem a peaceful, and insulating, perch. One downbeat night he hits a club, and a one-night-stand with the feistier gallery-working Glen extends into a mutual reevaluation of where they're at. Cullen and New chart the micro-exchanges of first-knowing when each side is figuring out how the other fits into their life, testing and dropping hypotheses as trust kicks in.
As has been suggested by others since its SXSW splash this past spring, it takes a careful touch to address the clichés that filmmakers, and everyone, bring to relationships; Glen for example begins as know-it-all to partly closeted Russell, before betraying the scarred-over wounds of past heartbreak. And Haigh, aiming for a modestly expressed but definitive triumph in gay drama, risks nuance with the way he has Russell and Glen lay out arguments about defining identity in a straight world, falling just this side of soul-baring conversation and not stakes-defining analysis, partly by showing its involuntary inevitability. But, spanning so much, from communication through sex to old-fashioned Brief Encounter poignancy, Weekend is time well spent.
Opens September 23