Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 10/26/11 09:59:29

"Forty-eight hours to fall."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

It would be nice to say that "Weekend" is a good example of those independent movies where two people meet, talk, flirt, and fall in love in a short time period and have the fact that both people are men be a minor detail rather than an important one, but we're not quite at the point where we can expect it to work that way. That's about 50% of what this movie is, but the other half is interesting as well.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is pretty well-adjusted; he's shy, but doesn't seem excessively uncomfortable either when hanging out with his straight friends on Friday night or in a Nottingham gay bar after. It's there he meets the extroverted Glen (Chris New), a would-be artist who whips a tape recorder out the next morning and starts asking Russell what he thought about the night before. Despite this awkward start, they hit it off - so of course Glen has plans to fly to America Sunday evening.

Weekend is a hang-out-and-fall-in-love movie, and like most of those it rises and falls on what the actors playing the central couple bring. Cullen and New make a nice pair, with the actors able to pick up on the aspects that are opposites both above and below the surface. Cullen makes Russell pleasantly soft-spoken but not weak-seeming; there's a level of comfort with who he is that belies his shyness. New, on the other hand, gets that while Glen may be much more forward, he's uncertain about everything.

That all comes from writer/director Andrew Haigh's script, of course, but it's impressive how well the three work together. "Opposites attract" is an easy shortcut to romance, but this pairing is more complementary than conflicting; Glen draws Russell out while Russell calms Glen down. The basics of the movie would be good even if Haigh had decided to play the characters being gay as just a detail, but it's an interesting and important part of who they are and what they talk about. Haigh brings up a number of things that the straight people in the audience, at least, might not have thought about without being confrontational beyond the nature of Glen's character, and backs up his words with actions (a lot of movies like this would keep the actual physical coupling discrete, for instance, but you really can't do that while also having a conversation on how gays don't discuss their sex lives in mixed company like straights do).

Haigh does a good job there and also with just putting the movie together in general. For a talky movie with one character more talkative than the other, it does a nice job of becoming more than just a wall of words, as well as using crowds as a good contrast for the characters' intimacy. The scenery in Nottingham makes a good backdrop - even the indoor scenes look kind of overcast, as opposed to being a bustling metropolis like London or New York where there's more of a chance to not feel like an outsider.

"Weekend" is good enough to be more than niche fare; it's a well-done romance before everything else. That "everything else" is impressive, too, well-observed even if not always particularly forceful.

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