Monday 5 December 2022

Mubi Monday: Weekend (2011)

I am going to start with a clarification, if I may. When I mention myself not being the target demographic for any movie, I am not doing so as a critique. It is usually just to contextualize my own viewpoint/filter, but also a reminder that it is always worth spending time with one of the 5% of movies not tailored towards straight, white, men. This is even more important to note with Weekend, a film that is paradoxically not aimed at me, yet also very much IS.

Tom Cullen plays Russell, a gay man who ends up meeting and hooking up with Glen (Chris New). The two have a very good night together, but questions arise the next day. Glen is in the habit of recording thoughts from people, asking them intimate and uncomfortable questions, and he wants to understand Russell better. Spending more time together during the weekend, Russell starts to find out that Glen is hiding just as much angst and insecurity beneath his more confident exterior. Russell struggles to fully embrace his sexuality, and Glen struggles to fully embrace someone he might have strong feelings for.

The second feature written and directed by Andrew Haigh, Weekend is an enjoyably frank and insightful look at the kind of thing we have seen so many times before. It’s about people getting to know one another, people finding a connection that both pleases and worries them, and the baggage and traits that they carry into every relationship, whatever that relationship is. It just happens to be focused on the gay men. The sexuality of the central characters is an important factor, but often only in the way that it reminds viewers of how everyone goes through the same experiences when putting themselves out there and potentially starting a new relationship. 

Russell may be shy about himself, but he isn’t hiding away from his friends. He is responding to what he sees around him, a constant barrage of imagery and opinions from the oft-sold “straight narrative”, called out onscreen by Glen, and the small-minded opinions of people around him that he has no connection with. There’s definitely more for him to deal with - homophobia, societal pressure, etc - but a large part of it will feel relatable to anyone who hasn’t wanted to join in with conversations and jokes that have been centered around sexual exploits and attitudes.

Both Cullen and New are very good in their roles, nicely revealing their characters coming together as both similarities and differences help them to bond. This isn’t a case of cinematic “opposites attract” fluff, but rather two individuals who start to see how well-suited they are for one another.

Obviously a film that will be most appreciated by gay men looking for some decent onscreen representation, Weekend is also equally worthwhile for those not in the target demographic. We all have very different life experiences, and we all have moments that we eventually realise have also happened to almost everyone else on the planet. Because love is love, sex is always a mix of sensuality and comedy, and every strong connection we make with someone is as dangerous as it is soul-enriching. But we keep risking it anyway.


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