Boy meets Boy. Boy connects with Boy. Boy moves to America.
In a nutshell, that is what happens in the latest film by Andrew Haigh, Weekend. Russell (Tom Cullen) is a completely anonymous fella in Nottingham, UK. A lifeguard, a quiet guy, recreational drug user, and alone. He has straight friends with families who embrace him and less than couth co-workers who treat him like an afterthought. But his private life is his own.
On his own, he ventures out to the gay club, in search of a one night hook up, however fleeting the short-lived gratification might be. This particular night, he brings Glen home. Glen (Chris New) is a hot-blooded artist whose current project is recording gay men talking about their sexual encounters. They could not be more different from one another; yet that opposition creates a powerful attraction between them.
They exchange numbers and hang out and bond with an alacrity that surprises them both. Finally, Glen confesses that he will be leaving for America the very next day. And so begins an intense, emotional 24-hour rollercoaster ride of two men struggling to let go of the soul mate they have only just met.
Weekend indeed depicts the sacred, accidental space where souls meet. The characters have just enough in common to be easy with one another, and just enough out of sorts to ignite honest, impassable frictions. There are no preconceived intentions in this encounter, but their compatibility is palpable. There is a waltz of resist and surrender, with each character taking his turn leading at both.
While the story does open up beyond one room, Weekend is essential a two person play. There is not much plot to this film, but the acting is truly wonderful and engaging. The driving force of this film is emotional and quite effortless. Tom Cullen and Chris give stunningly truthful performances; it’s unexpectedly captivating.
Just as a fly on the wall, the camerawork of Weekend comfortably keeps movement to the bare minimum. Likewise, the soundscape is sparse and the use of music is practical. Andrew Haigh’s film is far more than divine in its simplicity. It is more than refreshing and moving. It is more than an unassuming, richly satisfying independent film. Weekend is quite possibly a perfect cinematic experience.
I look back at what I’ve written thus far and notice that this review reads that I am really surprised. I am. Not for some time have I seen a film that relies so heavily on storytelling and performances – and succeeds so completely.
Weekend opened is currently showing in select theaters in Los Angeles (Laemmle Sunset 5) and New York (Clearview’s Chelsea, IFC Center). Do not miss it.