Weekend (2011)

Blu-ray Review: Weekend (Criterion Collection)

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

One Friday night after a house party with his straight friends, Russell (Tom Cullen) heads to a gay bar and hooks up with Glen (Chris New). The next morning Glen, an artist, interviews the timid Russell, a lifeguard, about the events of the previous evening: what were his first thoughts when they met at the club, and what about the things that took place at Russell’s apartment? Recording Russell’s answers, according to Glen, is part of a project attempting to tackle the subject of gay romance and sex—an venture he knows is futile; it’s unrealistic to think anyone would to see such a thing. Glenn thinks that people, straight or gay, don’t want to talk about the homosexual experience.

Director Andrew Haigh’s second feature film follows the two twenty-something gay men as a one night stand evolves into a complicated, emotional and perhaps, deep connection. Using a span of just three days, Haigh has delivered a surprisingly honest love story that doesn’t pull any punches, or pretend to be more than it is.

Weekend (2011)Though both men are out, they each have some unresolved issues. Russell has serious reservations about showing affection toward partners in public, or otherwise drawing attention to his lifestyle. Glen is extremely distrustful of men who attempt to get close to him—he had a relationship with someone who treated him very badly—and the concept of love as anything other than a comfort zone. These are two men who just happen to be gay, unexpectedly finding a comfort zone with each other.

A film based almost entirely on the interactions between Russell and Glen, Weekend features outstanding performances from Tom Cullen and Chris New. More than able to carry the film, both actors show a gamut of emotions throughout, all the while smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine, having sex, etc. As vulgar and hedonistic as Russell and Glen may seem, everything seems real. If these two actors weren’t as credible as they are and the direction wasn’t as thoughtful as it is, Weekend could have been a dull slog. Instead, it’s both sincere and captivating.

The film is wonderfully visualized. Cinematographer Urszula Pontikos gives the film a stark, documentary look that only emphasizes the reality of what we are watching. Weekend isn’t a fairytale. This isn’t a story about two strangers who meet, fall in love and live happily ever after. While they discover they’re soul mates, life doesn’t necessarily dictate that they’re meant to be together.

Presented in its 1.85:1 theatrical ratio, Criterion has given Weekend as good a transfer as a film with its modest budget can likely receive. Shot digitally, images or colors aren’t particularly sharp. Colors actually look rather drab at times, but it somehow fit with the story. Flesh tones look realistic, but black tones are just average. Keeping in mind the film’s £120,000 budget, this isn’t a bad transfer at all.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround track offers occasional ambiance, but doesn’t really add much to the overall soundstage. Dialogue can be a little tough to hear on occasion (I turned on the subtitles once or twice), the overall quality is just mediocre.

English SDH subtitles are available.

The following special features are included:

  • Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (31 min., 1080p) Recorded by Criterion in 2012, director Andrew Haigh, producer Tristan Goligher, director of photography Ula Pontikos and actors Tom Cullen and Chris New discuss Weekend, its themes and overall message.
  • The Sex Scenes (7 min, 1080p) Director Andrew Haigh discusses the film’s sex scenes. He explains his rationale for why he shot the scenes the way he did.
  • Audition Tapes (11 min., 1080i) Footage shot by producer Tristan Goligher and featuring Tom Cullen and Chris New. The actors perform two short scenes. Both are followed by the finished scenes from the film.
  • Chris New’s Footage (9 min., 1080i) During shooting, actor Chris New brought along a video camera. Presented here is some footage he shot while on set.
  • Quinnford + Scout (8 min., 1080p) director Andrew Haigh hired the Irish team of Quinnford + Scout (a.k.a Colin Quinn and Oisin Share) as the set photographers for Weekend after finding inspiration in their photography. A montage of their work is shown here.
  • Short Films two short films directed by Andrew Haigh.1) Cahuenga Blvd. (2003) (7 min, 1080i) 2) Five Miles Out (2009) (19 min, 1080i).
    • Trailer (3 min., 1080p) Original theatrical trailer for Weekend
    • Booklet: The 18-page booklet features an essay by film critic Dennis Lim.