Weekend (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Haigh|
|Produced by||Tristan Goligher|
|Written by||Andrew Haigh|
|Music by||James Edward Barker|
|Edited by||Andrew Haigh|
|Distributed by||Peccadillo Pictures (UK)|
Sundance Selects (US)
Weekend is a 2011 British romantic drama film directed by Andrew Haigh. It stars Tom Cullen and Chris New as two men who meet and begin a sexual relationship the weekend before one of them plans to leave the country. The film won much praise and critical acclaim after premiering at the SXSW festival in the US, and was a success at the box office in the UK and the US, where it received a limited release.
On a Friday night in Nottingham, Russell attends a house party with friends. He assures his best friend Jamie that he will be there on Sunday for his daughter's birthday. Russell leaves early, but decides to go to a gay club, alone and looking for a hookup. Just before closing time he meets Glen, an art student, and they have sex back at Russell's apartment. The next morning, Glen coaxes a hesitant Russell to speak into a voice recorder about their experience the previous night. Glen tells him this is for an art project. The more reserved Russell is taken aback by Glen's blunt discussion of sex. After Russell finishes, they exchange numbers and Glen leaves. Russell is shown writing about Glen on his laptop, evidently something he does after each of his encounters.
Russell, who works as a lifeguard, spends a lonely morning at the pool, at one point intently watching a gay couple interact. He texts Glen, who agrees to meet. The two begin to learn about each other's careers, their aspirations, and even share a bicycle ride back to Russell's flat, where they continue to discover more about each other's pasts. Glen explains that his art project seeks to explore the gap between who people truly are and who they want to be, as demonstrated by the personas they take on when hooking up with someone new for the first time. Russell reveals that he never came out to his parents because he doesn't know who they are; he grew up in a series of foster homes with his best friend Jamie. Growing closer after their conversation, they have sex.
About to leave, Glen then discloses that he had been planning to move to Oregon the next day to attend a two-year art course. Both are visibly upset, but stay affectionate. On a whim, Glen invites him to his goodbye party at a straight bar that night, and later Russell decides to go. While Glen is getting into an argument about heteronormativity with the bar owner, Russell chats with Jill, Glen's friend and flatmate. She first tells Russell that she never got to listen to his recording; Glen had let her listen to all of his others. She then confides in Russell that she and her friends don't expect Glen to follow through with his trip to America, to the point that they've started a bet. She also discloses that Glen had been in a relationship with someone named John, who cheated on Glen repeatedly and was attacked at a park shortly before the relationship ended. Since then, Glen has said he "doesn't do boyfriends."
Russell and Glen leave the bar, ditching Glen's friends, and head to a nearby carnival. Glen admits he's excited to leave, as he feels like his friends here have held him back. After enjoying their time at the park, they return to Russell's apartment and smoke marijuana and snort cocaine.
Russell confesses that like Glen’s art project, he has been recording his experiences, albeit more privately. He reads some of his entries to Glen, at which time it is revealed that one of the men Russell had slept with had been John, Glen's ex-boyfriend. They begin to argue about the motivations for the fight for gay marriage given Glen's anti-relationship stance. Russell confronts Glen, telling him that he thinks he's only lost faith in relationships because of John. Glen rebukes him and tells him it’s not that simple, and says that while he thinks Russell would make an amazing boyfriend, he doesn't want one right now. Russell is upset and steps away to the bathroom. He returns and they reconcile, and share a tender kiss. With all that has happened, they passionately make love that night.
Now Sunday morning, they talk in bed. Russell opens up about how self-conscious he feels in public about being gay. Glen deduces that part of the reason Russell keeps a record of his encounters is because he is fascinated by how people come out. Glen then pretends to be Russell's father, and gives Russell the opportunity to finally come out. Glen notes that he'll be leaving by train later that afternoon, while Russell has Jamie's daughter's birthday party to attend. Russell searches for the right way to say goodbye, but Glen shushes him and leaves with a kiss.
At the party, Russell makes a feeble attempt to stay interested, but he is clearly distracted. Jamie is able to persuade Russell to talk about what’s on his mind, even though they don't usually talk about this part of Russell’s life. After Russell explains his angst over the weekend's events, Jamie suggests taking Russell to the train station to see Glen off. Russell is there in time to see Glen show up at the station.
As the two wait for the train to arrive, Russell struggles to convey how much their chance encounter has meant to him. Glen stops him, just as he himself begins to hold back tears. They kiss in public, notable for the usually restrained Russell. Glen gives Russell a present (labeled "Russell the Lifeguard" because Glen had forgotten his last name), and with one last kiss, Glen leaves. Later, looking out from the window in his apartment, Russell opens the present and finds the voice recorder that Glen had used the morning after their first night. He presses play, and hears himself begin to recount what was the beginning of an unforgettable weekend.
- Tom Cullen as Russell
- Chris New as Glen
- Jonathan Race as Jamie
- Laura Freeman as Jill
- Loretto Murray as Cathy
- Johnathan Wright as Johnny
- Sarah Churm as Helen
- Vaxuhall Jermaine as Damien
- Joe Doherty as Justin
- Kieran Hardcastle as Sam
Much of the film was shot on location in Nottingham in late 2010. The promotion and production stills were shot by photography team Quinnford & Scout (Colin Quinn and Oisín Share), whose work inspired Haigh's design on location. The duo also make a cameo in the film.
During a Q&A session at the IFI in Dublin on 11 November 2011, Director Andrew Haigh said the film's budget was "around 120,000" — not specifying a currency.
According to Cullen, much of the action and dialogue was improvised: "Andrew, Chris and I really tore the script to pieces... I could literally throw anything at [Chris New] and he would respond accordingly. When we started each scene, we were never entirely sure where it would go".
Weekend received its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2011. It went on to screen in other North American festivals, including Maryland Film Festival. It was theatrically released in the United States on 23 September 2011, and in the United Kingdom on 4 November 2011.
Weekend has been critically acclaimed. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 72 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. Roger Ebert described it as "a smart, sensitive, perceptive film, with actors well suited to the dialogue."
Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe commented “One of the truest, most beautiful movies ever made about two strangers.” Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly wrote “British filmmaker Andrew Haigh‘s background in editing (from Gladiator to Mister Lonely) is evident in the casual beauty of moments that only appear “found,” giving Weekend an engrossing documentary feel.” Eric Hynes from The Village Voice commented “Naturalistic without being ineloquent, heartfelt yet unsentimental, Weekend is the rarest of birds: a movie romance that rings true.” Lena Dunham named it as one of her top 10 Criterion Films, saying "This just wrecked me. I went in knowing nothing except that gay men are my target demo and came out stunned by the subtlety and sensitivity of Andrew Haigh’s direction."
Awards and nominations
- SXSW Film Festival — Audience Award; Emerging Visions
- Nashville Film Festival — Grand Jury for Best Film; Best Actor for Tom Cullen
- Toronto Inside Out LGBT Film Festival — Audience Award Best Film
- Frameline, San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film festival – Best Film
- Outfest Los Angeles — Grand Jury Prize for International Feature
- Merlinka festival - International Queer Film festival - Best Queer Film
- Oslo Gay and Lesbian Film Festival — Winner Grand Jury Prize; Audience Award
- BFI London Film Festival — Tom Cullen and Chris New nominated for Best Newcomer
- British Independent Film Awards — Most Promising Newcomer for Tom Cullen; Achievement in Production
- Evening Standard British Film Awards — Best Screenplay
- London Film Critics' Circle Awards — British Breakthrough Filmmaker for Andrew Haigh
- Crossing Europe Film Festival - Audience Award
A "director-approved special edition" of Weekend was released in Region A/1 by The Criterion Collection, on both DVD and Blu-ray, on 21 August 2012. The release includes a high-definition digital master of the film; new interviews with cast and crew; two of Cullen and New's joint audition scenes; two short films by Haigh: Cahuenga Blvd. (2003) and Five Miles Out (2009); and additional features.
Banning of film in Catholic Church cinemas
The film was restricted to just ten cinemas on its release in Italy on 10 March 2016 after the country's bishops branded Andrew Haigh's acclaimed gay love story "indecent" and "unusable" in the country's many Church-owned film theatres. The film was shunned by the more than 1,100 cinemas which are owned by the Catholic Church and make up the bulk of Italy's network of independent/arthouse theatres. The country's official film board approved the film for audiences over 14.
- "WEEKEND (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Weekend (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Catherine Shoard (21 March 2011). "SXSW 2011: Andrew Haigh is an emerging talent destined to become the main event". The Guardian.
- Peter Knegt (9 November 2011). "The Box Office Success Stories of 5 UK Indies". Indiewire.
- Wendy Mitchell (11 October 2010). "Andrew Haigh stars Nottingham shoot for second feature".
- Billy Mecca (March 2011). "INTERVIEW: Setting the Tone for "WEEKEND" with Colin Quinn, Oisín Share and Director Andrew Haigh". Summer Diary Magazine.
- Kee Chang (23 September 2011). "Q&A with Tom Cullen". Anthem Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "SXSW Film Announces 2011 Features Lineup" (PDF). sxsw.com. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Weekend". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Roger Ebert (28 September 2011). "Weekend". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Weekend". Gay Essential. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Awards". Weekend-film.com. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "PREISTRÄGER 2012" (in German). Crossing Europe Film Festival. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- "Weekend". The Criterion Collection,. Archived from the original on 23 August 2012.
- "Banning by Catholic Church". AFP news site. Retrieved 12 March 2016.