Weekend is one of the most honest accounts of the tangled emotional consequences of picking up on a Friday night to hit the screen in years. It is significant for its bruisingly real depiction of a very ordinary weekend in which not a lot happens. Two people meet, get drunk, have sex, get stoned, have some more sex and, despite a burgeoning emotional bond, will probably never meet again. That’s about it. But what writer/director Andrew Haigh has to say about human connection in this very tight frame will resonate for considerably longer than its 98 minute runtime.

What makes Weekend so special is the uncompromising way it channels into the driving heart of the matter: making a commitment to oneself. Likeable Russell (Tom Cullen) heads out for the night. He picks up Glen (Chris New), an uncompromising art student whose prickly nature opens up a big conversation about identity, sexuality, love, fear and social politics. All of which would bury most films if not for the way Haigh bounces expectation across the sexual divide. If it’s ok for straight couples to kiss in public, he asks, why not gay? “Because we’re ashamed,” says Glen.

And so it proceeds with Haigh challenging the expectations of both his characters and audience in equal measure. Because Weekend seldom leaves its apartment setting (the film owes a lot to Britain’s angry kitchen sink two-handers of the 1950’s), we’re placed in an emotional pressure cooker that perfectly suits the confronting drama. And much of that is extremely confronting: if sex offends, look away now. Weekend is a challenging film for anyone who’s ever had a significant attraction, and that’s most everyone. Sharp, exciting and blisteringly frank, Weekend is a must see. Although as Glen would say, “No one will. It’s a gay film.”



The director Andrew Haigh (who also wrote and edited this film) worked for many years as an editor, cutting a diverse slate of films such as Gladiator and Mister Lonely. Weekend is his second feature, his first being Greek Pete (2009), which screened at both the Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Mardi Gras Film Festival in 2010. It is interesting to note that Haigh was named one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ in 2008, so he has been on the radar for a while and that attention is not surprising judging by this latest effort.

Weekend is a story of two young gay men falling for each other after a one-night stand. It covers issues dealing with sexuality, ‘coming out’ and the struggles we all face in forming new relationships, regardless of sexuality. The script delves right into issues of authenticity and self-definition and how two people, navigating their lives in very different ways, are really searching for a place in the world where they will be accepted for who they are, not ‘what’ they are.

Set in Nottingham, England, most of the scenes are shot in the interior of a council high rise. It is a homely dwelling, nicely decorated with retro goods. You spend a lot of time in the flat and it is the closeness of the surroundings which helps to develop the intimacy between the two main characters. The performances by Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) are outstanding. Both actors remain low-key and you are drawn into their brief, yet intense affair, which is nakedly truthful and full of genuine emotion.

If you are looking for a quiet and yet compelling drama, which has an intelligent script, a terrific cast and a sort of feel-good quality, then go along and see this film. You get the feeling that you are watching one of the new British directors and one waits in anticipation for Haigh’s next feature.

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Tom Cullen
Chris New

Andrew Haigh

Andrew Haigh


MA / 98 minutes

January 26, 2012
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moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks