Home Video Hovel- Weekend, by David Bax
Andrew Haigh’s tiny, low-budget, intimate film Weekend has more in common than you’d think with James Cameron’s epic, expensive, grand film Titanic. In both cases, two young people meet and become smitten with each other. That initial infatuation then grows exponentially when they realize their affair will likely be forced to end very soon. In Titanic, it’s because they’re on a sinking luxury ship in the middle of the North Atlantic. In Weekend, it’s because one of the pair is moving to Portland, Oregon on Sunday.
Given that the film takes place in Nottingham, in England’s Midlands, that impending relocation is a sizable obstacle. Haigh makes the perfect choice by not introducing it until about halfway through the film. If we knew that information from the beginning, we might be pleading internally for our primary lead, Russell, not to get so invested in the soon to depart Glen. After all, our initial reaction to him is that he’s a bit smug and immature. Yet he is refreshingly honest with himself and others in a way that unveils his innate intelligence and bestows on him an allure that is noticed by no one more so than Russell.
Despite Glen’s seemingly pompous nature, Haigh makes no attempt to pass judgment on him or any other characters. The film’s unapologetic depictions of sex and drug use are mirrored in the harsh spotlight Haigh shines on the two leads.
Despite two great lead performances and characters, this is ultimately Russell’s film. We see how, in ways with which we are likely familiar, he changes or obscures parts of himself in the presence of Glen. These are, after all, things we all do in the early stages of a relationship. But we also see how this brief encounter will leave Russell forever altered. That’s something that doesn’t happen with every person you’ve known for two days. Yet when we do meet someone who will change our lives in some way, we generally don’t see it coming. Haigh’s film may be small and intimate but then so are most of the more important things in one’s life.
Special features include interviews with Haigh, director of photography Ula Pontikos, producer Tristan Goligher and actors Tom Cullen and Chris New, an interview with Haigh about the film’s explicit sex scenes, on-set video footage shot by New and others, scenes from Cullen and New’s audition, a video essay on the film’s set photographers, Oisín Share and Colin Quinn (not that Colin Quinn), the film’s trailer and two shorts by Haigh, “Cahuenga Blvd.” and “Five Miles Out.”