In Indie Seen, we take a look at the smaller (but just as fantastic) films making their way into theaters alongside the big Hollywood tentpoles. Movies
Even in our progressive world, where gay couples can live openly, marry one another and adopt children, the film industry has a difficult time portraying gay relationships as simply “relationships.” You don’t see mainstream films with gay couples unless their homosexuality is directly acknowledged. That, for one reason or another, it’s a big deal that they’re gay. Even indies can’t seem to bring it up without making it a thing—to the point where gay drama is becoming a low-budget cliche
So when a movie takes a subdued approach to portraying a gay relationship, depicting it simply and honestly, that bond automatically feels a thousand times more refreshing, exhilarating and tangible. That’s what Weekend achieves, a new movie by British filmmaker Andrew Haigh that follows two men who find themselves caught in a romantic whirlwind over the course of (you guessed it) one weekend. The movie centers on Russell (Tom Cullen), a mellow, introverted lifeguard who we quickly learn is disinterested in discussing his sex life with friends. One night, while flying solo at a bar, Russell meets Glen (Chris New), and a night of small talk and drinking leads the two gentlemen back to Russell’s place. While the next morning reveals a few ulterior motives (Glen wants Russell to chronicle the previous night’s encounter on tape for an art project), through morning conversation, both men find quickly themselves entranced by one another.
While Russell has trepidations over engaging sexually with Glen and Glen struggles with his own commitment issues, neither character arc deals explicitly with gay issues. They’re the bumps in the road of any budding relationship, especially one that sparks as brightly as the instant connection between Weekend‘s two leads. Like Before Sunset or Once, Haigh shoots the action simply, relying on his characters realistic actions to stoke the fire of intimacy. The two leads have chemistry—you wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch them snort cocaine, play Guess Who and make out if they didn’t—and it gives us a reason to invest in Weekend‘s simple story.
After attending a screening of the film at South by Southwest Festival (where it won the Emerging Visions Audience Award) I realized that Weekend wasn’t just a great movie, but an important one. Weekend is relatable through and through, from the adorable moments of watching two people hesitantly fall for each other to the gut-wrenching experience of seeing two new lovers faced with big, last-minute decisions (early in the film you discover Glen is set to go overseas for school). There’s no angle. These are just two guys who fell in love. And it’s convincing.
There are great films, great art, great people out there in the world helping set the equality bar where it needs to be, but Weekend doesn’t feel like that film. It’s not political. Instead, the movie feels one step ahead of the curve. Not only can we live in a place where everyone’s equal, but we can live in a place where everything’s the norm, where experiences are shared across all types of people, no matter the differences. I doubt anyone, no matter what their feelings on homosexuality, could watch Weekend and walk away not empathizing with what Russell and Glen endure in their short time together. Weekend might be a small film recounting an intimate relationship, but it speaks to the grandest of ideas.
Weekend is currently in limited release. You can find out how to see the movie by heading to the movie’s website.