October 12, 2011

MOVIES: Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011)

Weekend tells the story of a weekend-long conversation between two gay men who meet at a bar on Friday night; in tone, you might think of it as a gay Before Sunrise.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is an introverted, semi-closeted lifeguard; Glen (Chris New) is a chatty artist. The serious talk begins when the men wake up the next morning, and Glen wants to tape Russell talking about their evening; he says the recording is for an art project on gay sexuality. That conversation opens the floodgates to a wide-ranging discussion of gay marriage, coming out stories, and the importance (or lack thereof) of longterm relationships. There's clearly a strong attraction between the two, both physically and emotionally, but there are a host of obstacles making a serious relationship unlikely.

The two principal actors are both terrific; Cullen is particularly good as the quieter of the two men, finding ways to let his silence speak more clearly than words. Haigh's dialogue has an improvisational quality; and while the specifics of these conversations will certainly be familiar to any gay man, the topics of love and intimacy are universal. The language is blunt, and there is one sex scene that's more graphic than any Hollywood scene between two men would ever be, but is roughly equivalent to the hetero scenes you'd see in an R-rated movie.

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