LFF

BFI London Film Festival 2011: ‘Weekend’

★★★★☆

Intimate, earnest and heartfelt, Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) – starring Tom Cullen and Chris New – is a refined and touching affair that showcases up-and-coming British film talent and an original approach to its subject matter.

On a Friday night after hanging out with his straight mates, Russell (Cullen) – an introverted lifeguard – heads out to a nightclub, alone and on the pull. After heavy drinking and hopeful cruising he meets Glen (New), an uninhibited and lascivious art gallery employee who he ends up spending the night with. An extended morning-after sequence of existential repartee sparks the beginning of a short lived relationship that sees the two extensively conversing, having sex, getting drunk and taking drugs – a recreational weekend romance which will resonate throughout the rest of their lives.

Played out with sensitivity and grace, Andrew Haigh’s gay romance Weekend will no doubt prove to be a career marker for its two male leads and talented director. Escaping the clichéd category of only being concerned with ‘coming out’ or repressed love, the film – through Haigh’s deft direction and Cullen and New’s expressive and compelling performances – steers itself towards an unconventional tale of a wary relationship between two young lovers within the titular time frame.

Whilst being distinctly British in feel and texture, Weekend does draw comparisons with such films as Lost in Translation (2003) and Before Sunrise (1995) in its minimalist tone and execution, but importantly unlike these American romances stays defiantly modest in its scope and ambition. It’s frank sexual nature and matter-of-fact quality will ultimately withhold it from crossing over to a mainstream audience but this is an understated and engaging tale.

For more BFI London Film Festival 2011 coverage, simply follow this link.

Stephen Leach

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