Review: Weekend

Directed by: Andrew Haigh
Written by:Andrew Haigh
Starring: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Laura Freeman
Released: January 26, 2012
Grade: A-

Weekend is an intimate, engaging drama about two gay guys who meet in a nightclub and then spend the weekend together.  There’s a clear connection between the pair and both are excited by the prospect of a new romance but neither wants to dive in too deep, too quickly.  They’re not quite sure what they want from a relationship and they’re keeping their cards close to their chest.

It may be a love story with two guys but it could just as easily apply to any relationship.  Through two wonderful performances from Tom Cullen and Chris New, writer-director Andrew Haigh has captured the many emotions associated with a new relationship.  There are moments of blind, uncontrollable enthusiasm where the heart does the talking… and there are moments of terrifying hesitation as their heads get in the way.

Except for a few short scenes, the entire film is set inside a small London apartment.  We peer into the lives of these two characters like a curious voyeur.  There are no wacky neighbours.  There are no quirky best friends.  It’s just a nice tale about two young men trying to get to know each other.  Well, there’s a bit of sex too.

Andrew Haigh isn’t a complete newcomer to the film industry.  He honed his teeth as an assistant editor working on a suite of Ridley Scott films – Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom Of Heaven.  It’s often difficult taking the next step but Haigh has found a way into the director’s chair.  He pulled together just over £100,000 from a variety of sources and shot Weekend in chronological order in just over two weeks.

Haigh has a “good eye” but I was particularly struck by the way in which he varied the distance between the actors and the camera lens.  Inside of the apartment, we see them up close and it’s as if they are the two most important people in the world.  Outside of the apartment, we only see them from a distance.  They’re two ordinary guys who you’d never notice if you walked past.

I’m a fan of this film and I’m not alone with my admiration.  The London Critics Circle honoured Andrew Haigh with their prize for the best breakthrough British filmmaker.  He beat a very strong field – John Michael McDonagh (The Guard), Joe Cornish (Attack The Block), Paddy Considine (Tyrannosaur) and Richard Ayoade (Submarine).  Every one of these movies can be added to your “must see” list.  They all prove that you don’t need a big budget when you have a great story to tell.