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Theatre, Music, etc.


October 7, 2011

Evenings Out

A brief moment

Three-day relationship changes everything in Andrew Haigh's ‘Weekend'

Two men spend two days getting to know one another before one leaves for a class abroad--an abridged “boy meets boy, boy loses boy” sort of thing--in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, opening October 14 at the Capitol Theater in Cleveland, November 3 to the Gateway Film Center in Columbus and God only knows when at the Neon in Dayton (it’s listed as “TBD”).

Russell (Tom Cullen) has gotten over his rocky start in life, having two parents who either died or just left him. He was raised in a decent foster home, but never really found stability until his foster parents took in another boy, who is like a brother to him.

That brother, and their close circle of friends and family, are the only ones to whom Russell has really come out, so through much of his life he lives in isolation, in silence in the East Midlands of England.

After a party with friends one Friday night, Russell heads out to the bar where he sees the handsome young Glen (Chris New), and after the usual dance of following him into the bathroom of the club (which looks surprisingly like the bar in The Crying Game), it looks like Russell will wind up with another man. Looks, however, can be deceiving.

So, post-coitus and post-post-coitus snooze, Glen wants to record Russell’s reflections on the previous night’s activities for an art project. Glen, you see, is an artist of some stripe or another, and wants to do an installation of gay sex. Heterosexuals can talk about sex and everyone thinks it’s all well and good, but let a gay man talk about sex and the horses react as if you had just said “Frau Blücher.”

Russell is embarrassed, but plays along, and Glen starts pulling him out of his semi-closeted shell. The two become closer, and meet up again that afternoon when Russell gets out of his job as a lifeguard, only to have Glen tell him that he’s leaving the next day to go to Portland, Oregon for two years for an art course. He invites Russell to his going-away party, which they skip out of, and go on a drug-fueled conversational rampage of their own personal issues.

The following day, Russell is faced with a choice: Let the doomed relationship just slide away, or pull a Notting Hill, as Glen calls it, and make the grand romantic gesture.

This is Haigh’s second feature film, after a documentary that followed a male prostitute for a year. He has, however, worked on a slew of other films, including Gladiator, in other capacities.

He takes an almost Dogma 95 approach to the film, making it a study in naturalism. There are times when the camera can see the actors, but the microphone cannot pick up what they are saying. The music is solely diegetic, that is, it is playing somewhere in the scene and can be heard by the characters. It gives the film a much more realistic air, makes it feel like the audience member is a fly on the wall.

And the two young actors are very good, although a peremptory glance at their IMDB pages could tell one to expect it from them. Cullen’s repression is almost palpable, as is New’s artistic petulance. Together, they are sex on wheels, and if either of them is heterosexual, they hid it incredibly well. Some people thought Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey were a little too demonstrative in I Love You Phillip Morris, but Cullen and New make that movie seem like a recruiting film for the abstinence movement. They kiss wetly and noisily, they simulate sex well enough that one begins to think it’s a sequel to Shortbus.

In short, they have a lot of sex, and it’s incredibly passionate.

Here’s hoping to more great things from the director and his two actors. If there is any justice in the film world, we’ll be seeing much more of them in the coming years.




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