By Jeremy Grossman
The two leads of “Weekend,” Tom Cullen and Chris New, have such great screen chemistry that they almost inspire jealousy. Ultimately, though, that is impossible; you just care too much about these guys. Therein lies the brilliance of Andrew Haigh’s film, which follows a few days in the lives of Russell and Glen, two men who meet at a gay bar. Russell (Cullen) is closeted and quiet, Glen (New) is out and outspoken. They spend the night at Russell’s place, and what could very well have been nothing but a one-night stand results in a deep and sincere relationship.
Perhaps they can’t explain it, but they feel a spark, and we the audience can feel it too. Throughout the filming of the movie, Cullen and New lived together in an apartment, and it isn’t difficult to believe. The two men are utterly committed to their characters and their on-screen relationship, and the work pays off.
Shot in only sixteen days, “Weekend” never gives itself the chance to lose its unique voice. Everything about the film is genuine. Take, for instance, a scene where Russell is sending Glen a text message, and agonizes over inserting a smiley face or a frowny face. The whole scene would come off incredibly ridiculous if it weren’t for its striking emotional honesty. Russell and Glen’s relationship feels completely legitimate and is rightly treated like something rare and precious.
In an age of sappy romantic comedies, “Weekend” aims at and succeeds in being realistic in almost every way: the acting, the screenplay, the direction, and even the message. Russell and Glen are two characters we would want to invite over to our house for a cup of coffee. We’re only lucky enough to spend a weekend with these guys. Is it enough? No, it isn’t, but it will have to do.
Jeremy is a contributing writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.