Set in Nottingham, “Weekend” begins with Russell (Tom Cullen) in the tub, getting ready to go to dinner with a group of his best friends, all of whom are straight.
Russell heads to a gay bar, where he cruises Glen (Chris New) but almost winds up with another man they jokingly call “the Hobbit.” We don’t know what happens until Glen wakes up in Russell’s bed the next morning, whips out his — wait for it! — tape recorder, and asks Russell to recount the events of the night before for an “art project.”
Russell goes off to his job as a lifeguard at a public pool but gets together with Glen again afterward. This time Glen reveals that he’s leaving the next day for at least two years in Oregon. Since there’s no indication of a deep bond forming between them, that sounds like a win-win. The sex is good so they can spend one more night together, then part without a great sense of loss.
But booze and drugs bring their conversations to new levels of intimacy, which is where “Weekend” begins to get interesting after far too much prologue. They share stories of past sexual adventures and reveal themselves to be as far apart philosophically as Republicans and Democrats.
Glen is an extrovert and an activist. Hurt by a previous relationship, he’s not looking for another one and doesn’t think anyone else should be either. Russell is an introvert who’s not into public displays of affection but wants someone to be with in private. He’s a romantic who would fall in love with a bee if it stung him. There’s no reason for these guys to even think of being together for more than a weekend, except that they’re in a movie.
Being more of a Russell than a Glen myself, I wanted to love “Weekend,” but the spark wasn’t there for me because I couldn’t believe it was there for the protagonists.
That’s no reflection on the actors, who do fine work at an amazing level of intimacy that must have been incredibly awkward. Maybe I’ve been ruined by Hollywood movies where people start out as antagonists and gradually become attracted to each other.
In this case the attraction comes first, then the antagonism, and we’re supposed to believe love grows out of that. Even if you aren’t sure you buy it, “Weekend” should be a good date movie, perhaps even a litmus test for a couple’s potential.
Top photo: Tom Cullen as ‘Russell’ and Chris New as ‘Glen’ in ‘Weekend,’ directed by Andrew Haigh. (by Quinnford & Scout)