Thursday, 17 May 2012

Random Notes on Weekend

One of my favourite recurring things in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend is the shot of Glen leaving Russell’s apartment building. In a way my appreciation of that scene sort of encapsulates my reaction to the film holistically. The concept of the camera repetitively following someone as they leave a specific location is not especially newfangled on its own, and yet the way Haigh’s camera observes Glen in different modes as he leaves is wrought with so much precision (buoyed by the fact that he’s being watched by a hidden Russell) and is indicative of the type of character specific beats through which Haigh develops his story.

I saw Weekend some time after I’d wrapped up m year-end awards and I didn’t even officially review it. although it wouldn’t unseat Certified Copy, or perhaps any of my top 5, as my favourite film of 2011 I do love the way that I can draw parallels between it, the aforementioned Kiaorstami masterpiece and other goodies of the year like Beginners and A Separation. True, each of them owes much to their purely cinematic elements but they’re all significantly propelled by significant amounts of simple conversations, and I like that. Good movie are making simple conversation hip again. A majority of Weekend is made up of the easy flow of conversation between two intelligible adults. And, it crackles with an authenticity that makes me want to savour it all the more.

Somewhere in the middle Russell and Glen get into one of a few arguments, this one is significant though because the both of them get particularly choked up when it touches on some personal issues. And, it works as well because of Haigh as it does because of the performers. I’m impossibly excited about the thought of what more could come from Tom Cullen and Chris New. I wouldn’t say that the state of young male performers is in a dearth, but maybe next to Ben Whishaw and James McAvoy (both of whom continue to be woefully underused) New and Cullen rest as the few young-ish male performers I’m palpably intrigued at the potential of their careers. So much of Weekend works because of how effective the two are together.

“Pretend I’m your dad,” Glen says in a scene. “Come out to me.” And I wondered to myself, the first time I saw it, where could Haigh be going with this scene? It doesn’t go where I anticipate it – the scene is neither hokey, pat or over-exaggerated and it’s because of the level of ease which both Cullen and New are able to telegraph in the skins of these characters. Even with so many poignant beats already I didn’t expect that scene to play out as tender as it did and the same could be said of the entire film. I didn’t expect it to be so tender.

My friend who watched it with me earlier in the week (when I saw it for the third time) mentioned how nice it was that such a moving romantic encounter could stem from a by-the-way glance at a club. And that is one of the nice beats about what Haigh does. Even with the incidental drug-use (which has been criticised by some) the tenderness of the film isn’t diluted. True, it’s still something of an artistic conceit watching these two men grow so much in a few days, but it all feels natural. At the end when Russell hears the gay slur and glares at the camera the trajectory is discernible but not forced and is just one in many great arcs from Haigh. Small, personal, effective and tender - Weekend Works.

(Also, how could I not love a movie that gives a nod to A Room with a View and “Rupert Graves’ shuddering cock”? Finest moment of atypical humour in the film. And, you know I'm always down for a Merchant Ivory shout-out.)


Jose Solís said...

This movie is my life. Also, Lost in Translation, but you get where I'm going with this...

Robert said...

Awesome post for a beautiful film. It really deserved more attention, especially Tom Cullen, who I thought was quietly stunning. It really hasn't left me since I saw it.