Weekend

I’ve written before how I dislike it when stage plays, TV shows and films still manage to be all about the gay even in the twenty-first century. Well, Weekend is one of those, about every aspect of teh gay — except, thankfully, the overblown HIV trope — and yet does not feel like it. From ten thousand feet it’s full of the usual stereotypes that replaced the old campy, mincing Graysons and Humphrieses: the meat market, drug-taking, one-night stands, casual homophobia, checked shirts and beards. Yet these are window dressing. Strip them away and you’re left with a raw core of universal truths. A desire for relevance, for belonging. A fear of commitment, of loneliness. What could be, what might have been.

Russell is semi-closeted, nominally happy but groping for meaning and not truly comfortable in his skin. Glen is out, brash, confident and charismatic with a heavy sprinkling of militant. One you’d be happy to show off to your parents; the other would undoubtedly upset the teacups with a well-meaning but entirely mistimed rant about heteronormativity. It is fair to say you find both types in the real world in abundance.

The film follows Russell over the course of a weekend, from just before his first meeting with Glen until — well, no spoilers. It’s an eventful few days, for both of them, and an inflection point in both their lives. Decisions, revelations, uncomfortable truths. Fundamental changes in their relationships with their closest friends. Universal themes, here seen from an authentic and unashamedly gay perspective.

One problem is that, as a rainbow warrior myself, it is all familiar stuff. It might be a sparkling revelation to the hetties that gays aren’t all of one mind, programmed by Cyber Controller Russell T. Davies with the same set of beliefs and the same agenda. The truth is, and please find a comfortable armchair for this dramatic announcement, we have different opinions. Most of us have at some stage been on one, other or both sides of the arguments portrayed in the film. You should hear what’s said about John Barrowman.

Weekend is shot in a naturalistic style, almost entirely with a handheld camera. The dialogue feels real, and indeed was partially ad libbed. You rarely feel a sense of staging; more than once it appears as though the actors were simply miked up and told to get on with it in a real crowd.

The film’s focus on just Russell and Glen, and primarily Russell, is relentless and almost total. In some scenes the camera stays close on Russell even as he interacts with other characters, who barely enter the frame. Many scenes are shot as long, single takes, often with a long lens, between the jackets of strangers on a tram or through drinkers in a bar. These techniques draw you in from dispassionate third-party, to voyeur, to intimate participant.

Both leads deliver excellent performances. Chris New (Glen) is an actualgay whereas Tom Cullen (Russell) is just gay-for-play, but it doesn’t particularly show.

The film is very definitely an 18: there is drug-taking, there is nudity, there is sex. None of it is gratuitous. Apparently the Daily Mail didn’t like it, which you can interpret as you see fit.

Some films you walk out of and instantly forget. Some you rant about, or laugh about, or immediately look up on IMDb to discover the goofs you missed. Some you shake your head at and say, “I wish George Lucas had stopped making films in 1990.”

Weekend made me want to write something like Weekend.

Avaragado’s rating: assorted munchies

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