WEEKEND: some seriously moody pain

On our wedding anniversary my husband wanted to see HAROLD AND KUMAR, but I persuaded him to see WEEKEND, Andrew Haigh’s gay one-night-stand romantic drama. We both love Wong Kar Wai’s HAPPY TOGETHER (1997), another gay romance that chronicles the end, not beginning, of a relationship, as well as Barry Jenkins’ MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY (2008), a one-night-stand movie that tracks a flinging couple nearly moment to moment over a short time period, which WEEKEND does, too. This is practically a genre! It will clearly have something for us, we thought. And after we got over the fact that Haigh is using the same title as one of the most famous French New Wave films ever made, off we went.

The story follows Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), who meet at the most generic of all places, a club. They proceed to follow each other around until one makes a move, and soon they’re making out, followed by falling into one another’s arms and eventually into bed. They lie around some more, have more sex, do some drugs, say goodbye and then meet up again, unable to stay away from each other. They say goodbye for good, on Sunday, the true and bitter end of the weekend. But what was supposed to just be a one-off hook up ends up having the promise of much more.

As it turned out, we found that there was less for those of us passed the serious courting time of life. Not that I can’t relive it if called to. I, for one, sort of enjoy feeling the pain of untethered, uncertain, insecure love. Even though it was gorgeous, and had some fine performances, WEEKEND just feels slightly narrow. Why, I wondered, if it has so much going for it. There are, for starters, traces of Cassavetes in the moment to moment drama. Urszula Pontinkos’ camera is loose but graceful, and the overlapping dialogue feels spontaneous and organic. We get a clear picture of who these two guys are directly from behavior, not explicit exposition. So why didn’t it reach across the age gap for me? Maybe it has to do with the pain being primarily internal. Not big on action or even on decisions made outside of a bar or bedroom, it’s moody and implied, and just might require a certain closeness to that kind of experience. The nuances of interaction feel real, but the stakes that accompany them feel specific to a certain age. So even though it’s seductive on the outside, I couldn’t quite make the leap to the inside.