Review: Weekend

RELATIONSHIPS can be as difficult or easy as people want them to be. But every now and again, some folk experience something so special it resonates throughout their life.

Andrew Haigh‘s Weekend is a beautiful insight into the lives of two twenty-something guys who embark on a weekend-long relationship that blossoms into a tender tale of making a commitment to another human being.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is a lifeguard at a local swinning pool. After a boozy night in with pals he heads to a nearby bar where he picks up Glen (Chris New) for what is expected to be a one-night stand.

However, things quickly grow into something more than that. Glen’s outgoing and not afraid to show the world he’s gay. Russell, on the otherhand, is quite private, refusing to display any affection in public. And he definitely won’t partake in graphic discussions on sexual encounters. It’s just not his way to do things.

Although things frequently get physical, most of their time together is spent talking about life. When Glen announces he’s moving to Oregon for two years, it’s almost heartbreaking seeing the ache in Russell’s eyes.

The next 24 hours are spent getting closer as both men open themselves up in ways they never thought were possible before they met. Despite claiming he ‘doesn’t do relationships’, Glen’s reaction at the train station before heading off reveals a side of him never before seen.

Cullen is great as the vulnerable, shy Russell. His outlook on life and love is almost that of a romantic. He sees marriage between two men as a massive statement and two fingers up to those who believe such a thing is ‘wrong’. He wants to be in a relationship that’s loving and committed.

New’s journey over the course of the weekend is remarkable. Watching him go from being a man not interested in love – he openly states that marriage between two men would be akin to conforming – to a tear-stained wreck is extremely touching.

There are a few scenes that show the cracks surfacing in his shield – especially when he encourages Russell to speak to him as if he was talking to his father, who Russell admits he didn’t know very well having been put into care as a child. It’s an astonishingly honest scene that proves change is possible when love is involved.

Weekend is that rare breed of romantic drama – not cliche-ridden, beautifully told, well-acted and ultimately, a brilliant look at how searching for identity and a connection with someone can be found in the most unlikely of places. An unmissable piece of UK cinema.

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