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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2012
You can't watch this film without feeling something. The script consists of sincere interactions, natural small talk and realistic arguments. It made me think about aspects of my own life. Parts of my past, feelings I've had about friends, lovers, my parents, and what these relationships mean to me. It even made me think about my future.

Weekend isn't just another gay movie. It's not distasteful or stereotypical. It's delicate. It's amusing. And my word, it makes you think. The "love" story, if that's how you want to put it, is sewn neatly into that raw, British reality. Altercations between characters remind me of ones I've had myself - petty, circular and genuine. Authentic characters are placed into familiar situations. I lost count of the times I felt a sense of déjà vu, a deep understanding of the context, or even recognition of myself in one of the characters. I even recognised my friends in others. It might just be me, but aspects of this film seem to describe life experiences that we've all been through; gay or straight.

This film picks up on something that might ordinarily go unnoticed. It cultivates the idea that something strong can burst from a chance encounter with someone you meet in a bar. This scenario must happen more often than realised. It happens every day, but so many just pass it off as a myth. The idea that such a bond could be formed over a single weekend may seem farfetched to some, but I believe the actors capably portray the honesty of what these characters create.

So much about the film's production mutters authenticity. It lets you witness each of Glen and Russell's encounters as if you were there. Camera angles range from incredibly distant to up close and personal. You could be placed across the street from the couple, or as a passenger on their tram. Next thing you know you're in bed with them. At one moment, surrounding bystanders cross in front of the shot, concealing the pair entirely. This technique allows the audience to immerse themselves in the characters' world, as if to eavesdrop on their conversation.

The only real criticism I have is related to the excessive use of drugs throughout the film. While it's perfectly realistic to have characters taking lines and shooting up, here I felt that it didn't fit with the personalities involved.

Russell is played by Tom Cullen, who admirably utilises body language, tone of voice and eye gaze to successfully pinpoint the character's insecurities. Although openly gay, it is evident that Russell is yet to be totally comfortable with his sexuality. Glen (Chris New) provides Russell with stepping stones toward this personal development, and it truly is endearing to watch.

Bedroom scenes aren't just used for sex. Although these are natural and incredibly sensual, the morning after does well to hold attention. These scenes frequently display romantic affection and touching exchanges, in spite of the disagreements and platonic ambience we see in a majority of the film.

If you feel like the trailer alone stirs the heart, wait `til you see the full thing. By the end, you're left with a churned barrel of emotions, aching to be told the rest of the story. In a way, this indecisive ending, severed by something rusty and serrated, is an ideal way to complete the film. There's no tidy bow to connect loose ends, no lid to put it all away. The lives of those involved are left open and unforeseeable.

It leaves you wanting more.

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on 13 December 2011
This is a fantastic film. I personally love the British hyper-realist style of film, but this one not only provides a documentary feel, but is also beautifully natural. I would go so far as to say that the non-dialouge sections are the best features of the film. Chris New and Tom Cullen shine as actors!

The only downside for me is that I feel the film slightly became what it tried not to be. Here was a film billed as not a 'gay film', but a film that features gay characters. Unfortunately some of the conversations did become rants about classic gay issues. On the plus side a refreshing look at other social issues such as children in care was covered without resorting to stereotypical characterisation.

Overall the film was fantastic and I felt melancholic for days after even when not thinking of the film.
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on 8 December 2011
(Dir. Andrew Haigh / 97 minutes)

I know, I know, gay man picks gay film as his best of the year; how predictable can you get? But this low-budget British independent film was so much more than an excuse to look at naked men (that was just an added bonus).

Weekend was something special and real and beautiful and managed to portray the genesis of a relationship with far more believability and far more heart than Hollywood has ever done. Sure, it's about homosexuals, but the themes covered here are very universal; falling in love, the notion of meeting somebody for the first time allowing you a blank canvas on which to project a version of yourself, the idea of getting stuck in your ways with a bunch of friends who drag you down and hold you back because they expect you to behave in a certain way. The film casts aside the all-too-familiar stereotypes, the clichés and the need to rant on about issues, and instead offered a simple story about a burgeoning relationship between two men, quiet, unassuming Russell (best name ever) and 'out' and proud Glen, who meet late on a Friday night in a gay club.

The development of their relationship, which takes place over the eponymous weekend, was played out with such refreshing ordinariness (the best parts of the film are the wonderful set-piece 'real time' scenes where the blokes are just chatting casually in the kitchen, drinking tea, talking about life). I look forward to the DVD release so I can enjoy it all over again. Funny, tender, real... superb.
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on 31 July 2016
This is a fantastic film about two guys finding love over a single weekend. It's also one of those rare films where the acting is so natural that you almost forget you are watching a work of fiction. The story is well paced and the directing is thoughtful, considering the material including sex scenes.

This film won't be for everyone but I wish that more people would choose to watch it to appreciate the message about how normal the love between two people (of any gender) can be. But if you do get to watch this film pick a time when you're not feeling lonely as it will make you think about how difficult and unfair life can be.
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on 29 March 2012
I'm not a big one for reviews, they are all subjective and do absolutely nothing but appeal to the scardy cat & dull at heart. See the film, make up you own mind!
That said.....I saw this when it was at the cinema and for a couple of days afterward it stayed with me. Its lush, atmospheric and has a stroke of realism to it that tinges the everyday once you leave it behind, in my view that's what good art does.
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on 27 December 2011
OK, so I went to see this a month or so ago with a mate... and for a week afterwards, I couldn't stop thinking about it :$ It really is THAT good... It gets under your skin and far into your head. And it doesn't feel like a film, strangely. Very quickly it begins to feel like watching, rather voyeuristically, someone else's real, banal, life... and yet it's completely compelling! My mate and I talked about it for an hour on the drive home... and he only lives 20 minutes from the cinema :)) An equivocal ending that's so refreshing... and, I've tried to avoid saying what everyone else has said already - but sod it - it feels very, very real. Watch this film. It probably IS the best film of the year. And certainly the best British one. You might be like me and come out feeling quite mixed up... but the final shot will stay with you for a long time. Enjoy :)
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on 28 August 2012
I have only one problem with this movie, but it's a big one, and it's the only thing that keeps me from giving it five enthusiastic stars. The problem is the drugs. Russ and Glen (and all their friends) use drugs CONSTANTLY, and it seriously undermines the movie's credibility and effectiveness.

It's impossible for me to believe that illegal drug use is so widespread and so rampant in the English working class these people seem to belong to (forgive me if I've misidentified the class, but its name doesn't matter), in a rather provincial city like Nottingham (again, please forgive me if I've mischaracterized Nottingham - I'm just a dumb American). If it is, then England is a whole lot more different from America than I thought it was. But even if Weekend is accurate in that respect, it undermines the otherwise wonderful story this movie tells, and tells more beautifully and more realistically than any other movie I know of.

To me, it's a shame, because the always-in-your-face drug use leaches focus off the two guys onto a side issue that is not really as important in their relationship as its percentage of screen time would indicate. I don't care about drugs one way or another, but I do care about movies, and the heavy drug use in this movie undermines its power by distracting the viewer's attention away from the characters. Drug use is integral to some movies, but not this one; here it's an unnecessary - and annoying - distraction.
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on 8 February 2016
This is one of those films that is extremely well acted (with some star power), very well shot (it had a considerable budget that was subsidized by British Government film organizations), great imagery and visual flow, HOWEVER, its story is far more simplistic and down and out boring than all the advertising and most other reviews make it out to be. Oh, and have I mentioned that it has an unconvincing and unhappy ending? It is literally about a weekend in a British city (I believe it's Leeds) where two men meet at a gay bar, have a one night stand and each of them ends up doing something that they would normally not have done for each other without the almost invisible "magic" that propels them to see each other a couple of more times during that same weekend - both actions are unfounded and unsupported by the occurrences leading to their materialization... And, finally, YET AGAIN, this film too, has an unhappy, unfulfilled and anti-climatic ending which, consequently, provides the viewer with absolutely no cathartic residue... Worth watching but keep your expectations at bay...
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on 5 April 2012
'Weekend' was not what I had imagined. It was much more original, insightful, surprising and touching than I had expected. What especially appealed to me was the character and characterisation of its two central actors, at once ordinary and, of course, complex and unique. The film showed both the ordinariness of the lives of two gay men and the issues which, in a straight world, they nonetheless have to wrestle with. It also showed how two people can fall in love literally overnight. With these two, love crept up on them but over a very short space of time! Ultimately, the film was also deeply moving. It deserves all the accolades it has had.
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on 10 November 2014
I saw this film when it was shown recently by Channel 4 (a word on that later) and thought it was a moving, thought provoking and impressive piece of work. The film has a sad and melancholy feel arising from the exploration of its key theme - the obstacles to achieving committed, lasting relationships. Its strength lies in its gritty realism and portrayal of two young gay men, each struggling in their own ways to find happiness and direction in their lives, as well as a way to live in a world that is sadly, despite the advances of recent decades for gay people (in the West at least), still sometimes hostile, intolerant and uncomprehending. This is a refreshingly realistic portrayal of two gay people who have all the same strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices that straight people have, rather than the clichéd stereotypes of the loveable, eccentric camp queen or sinister deviant that we so often encounter in film. Their characters are in some respects polar opposites, Russell (played by Tom Cullen) less demonstrative and political about his sexuality, more reserved and traditional in attitudes than Glen (played by Chris New) who seems more confident, political, worldly and somewhat cynical about life and love. Superficially Glen seems a more confident and self-assured character than Russell but as the film progresses, we begin to wonder whether this is really the case. Dramatic interest arises from the juxtaposition of their different attitudes towards life, love and the possibility of a relationship - Russell clearly wanting one and Glen not - and the fact that their emotional dilemma is one that many people of any sexuality, have faced. Written and directed by Andrew Haig, the screenplay is intelligent and believable with some imaginative cinematography and a well chosen score. But it is the excellent performances by the two lead actors Cullen and New which underpin and contribute to an impressive work of art. When watching the film, I kept thinking that Cullen's face looked very familiar but couldn't place him. Checking out his Wikipedia entry, I realised that he was none other than the actor who plays Lord Gillingham in the wonderful Downton Abbey. According to his Wikentry, Cullen gained a first-class honours degree in acting and my word, does it show! (Less of a surprise was to discover that he is Welsh - honestly, what is it about that small, great country and handsome hunks, of which it seems to produce more than its fair share?) The strength of Cullen's performance is equally matched by New's which makes for a fine, character based drama. In some respects, it is rather like a contemporary, gay version of Brief Encounter. A splendid film with many qualities which should be appreciated by viewers gay and straight. I mentioned at the start of this review that I saw the film on Channel 4 who seemed to have deliberately scheduled it as part of an expression of political support for gay people in Russia, facing Putin's anti-gay legislation and a truly appalling predicament at the present time. It was aired shortly before the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and preceded by Channel 4's amusing, pro-gay trailer. Top marks to all involved and top marks to C4 for its brave and principled political support.
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