Weekend with Kate (1990) is a wafer-thin romantic comedy with the air of a film thrown together in a hurry. It could almost have been conceived, written and filmed entirely over a weekend.Richard (Colin Friels) is a novice PR man for a rock promoter, Kate (Catherine McClements) his stay-at-home artist wife. Their marriage is crumbing through Richard’s neglect - he’s having an affair with the bossy Carla (Helen Mutkins), from his agency. They have long planned a relaxing weekend together at a beach home belonging to Kate’s parents. But they have very different expectations - Richard wants to break up with Kate, Kate hopes to romance Richard into having a baby with her. Matters are complicated by the arrival of “superstar” Jon Thorne (Jerome Ehlers). Richard is responsible for babysitting the egomaniacal English rock star for the weekend.
Thorne is that most embarrassing of movie creations - a phony star. There’s some cringe-worthy footage of him “in concert” before a screaming stock footage audience, with a Warwick Capper hairdo and Bon Jovi-style backing band. He’s warbling to some bland over-synthesised “Oz rock”. This pop/rock music hybrid is of a type that no one ever bought into during the 1980s - here lies not the path to untold riches. The concert is only to show us how famous Thorne is but it’s impossible to suspend disbelief and accept the notion that this guy without charisma could ever be a star.
Kate is by turns mousy and petulant, and Richard is a cheating spineless yuppie. Friels at least pumps some charm into his unlikeable role but can’t make Richard seem genuine. When Jon and Richard bond after a boating accident, I couldn’t be sure if Richard’s raucous laughter was heartfelt or more sycophancy directed at his important client.
Director Arch Nicholson has no feel for farce, and little flair for comedy. Whole scenes went by before I realised they were supposed to be funny. Bruce Rowland’s wan saxophone score punctuates the action like a sitcom laugh track. The film’s one creditable feature is some sunny Sydney cinematography from Dan Burstall.I don’t think even screenwriters Henry Tefay and Kee Young knew how Weekend with Kate should end. It feels unfinished, not that you’re likely to care a jot about what happens to any of these characters before or after the credits roll.