editor of Gladiator, Haigh breaks out with his feature
debut that tells the romantic coupling of a young gay
couple in surburban Nottingham, Russell (Tom Cullen)
is a little bit down at a friend's party and having
said he would go home stops in a gay bar on the way
home hoping to boost his esteem, there he indulges in
a one-night stand with Glen (Chris New), a would be
artist who is extremely more self-confident than the
less introverted Russell.
Russell wakes up and makes coffee, and in a clever bit
of editing and directing, we do not know if it is Glen
(the guy he had his eye on) or the unfortunate hobbit
we last saw Russell talking to whilst Glen watched.
From there, Russell and Glen start talking about life,
work, the size of each other's penis. Russell leaves
for his work as a lifeguard, Glen meets him after his
shift finishes and they talk some more. Glen asks if
Russell is out to his parents, from this we learn that
Russell is an orphan, and that the friends he was with
at the start of the film is Jamie his life-long friend
who is supportive of his lifestyle.
They then engage in some lovemaking on the sofa, Glen
invites Russell to a party that evening - a bon voyage
party as Glen is leaving for Oregon to study
conceptual art. The inevitability of his leaving and
the time constraints thrust upon the characters by the
film's title means that the constriction of time
allows a full blossoming of the relationship to take
hold of you.
Unlike other gay films, the film does not over-do the
explicitness of the film's overt sexuality, here you
have two men coming to terms with their sexuality and
the difficulty after having come out; at times you
forget that it is two gay men talking but instead two
people conversing about the difficulty of their
relationship and feelings. This is a credit to the
openness of the performances by the two leads Cullen
and New, who embue a sense of naturalism into the
roles, Cullen all full of guilt and confusion, whilst
New handles the extrovert Glen well, never making him
over-the-top when he could easily have been in your
Russell is the more romantic of the two, and yet this
never becomes oversentimental even when they have
their 'Notting Hill' moment at the end when the full
exploration of the relationship reaches its crescendo.
Haigh's use of the tower block as a character is also
important using some great landscape shots of the city
at nighttime, and the naturalistic feel of the film
flows fluidly throughout in pace with the freedom of
the performances that elevate another boy-meets-boy
film to the echelon of worthwhile movie in its own
right. There are some lovely shots such as when
the camera is fixed on the pair whilst they talk on
the tram on the way home on Saturday night, the camera
holds and lets the two hold our attention whilst the
tram is moving - that is a great element of faith and
trust in the two leading men for a small film and from
a first-time helmer such as Haigh.
Hopefully this film finds a far wider ranging
audience, one that it deserves and needs to see it for
all its worth.
Interview with Andrew Haigh, Tom Cullen and Chris New
NTTA is granted a too short half hour with the
director and two stars of latest British film
'Weekend' which received its UK Premiere at the London
Film Festival 2011 this weekend.
When you meet filmmakers or hear of other reviewers
having met filmmakers you only hear the horror
stories, the director who is too opinionated or does
not want to be found out if they mention a certain
film as an influence, or the vain star who spends too
much time looking out the window instead of at the
person interviewing them. Which makes it so
refreshing to meet three young men who have together
made a film that is both refreshing, original and
Chris New (extrovert Glen) sits sandwiched between Tom
Cullen (reserved Russell) and the director, Andrew
Haigh. We start off by asking about the response
to the film in America.
AH: 'Yeah, well it is all about timing. We
weren't ready in time for Sundance, yet we were for
South by Southwest (SXSW in Austin, Texas - where the
film won the Audience Award), and yes it was positive
out there but there is sometimes a willingness for the
praise to end, and you think that is alright the
bubble will burst. But then we get picked up by a
distributor in America, and then we open in New York
and we get fully booked houses, so you become aware
that maybe we have not just got a gay niche film but
something for a wider audience, especially one who
pays to go see it already.'
The shoot took 17 days in Nottingham, how did that go?
TC: 'It was the most pleasurable experience I can
remember having in a working environment, because of
the journey all three of us took together helped.'
AH: 'It helped that I had two good actors, because too
often directors don't trust actors they've cast.'
CN: 'I've had experiences when you suggest something
to a director, who will say no thanks. And then 10
minutes later will come back and suggest what you just
TC: 'And the script helped but it was an ongoing
thing, because there was room to improvise such as I
said a line about Russell kissing my chest and then my
hand. I got the script and then saw that was in
AH: ' I was constantly re-writing and re-writing the
CN: 'That's what happened with the chocolate rolls. I
read for Glen with someone else before Tom was cast
and he bought chocolate rolls to the read'.
AH: ' So we were always adding to the script
throughout, but the most important thing was to keep
this film honest and not make it about aesthetics.'
Andrew your experience has been in Hollywood editing
for Ridley Scott in Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, was
that a deliberate act to not be over aesthetic on this
AH: 'I think people are liable to over-edit to death,
on this occasion it was always my intention to let the
film unfold in the moment, allow there to be a freedom
for the audience as well to engage and invest their
time more with a natural flow and create their own
relationship as well.
CN: 'And the more specific you make the story, in this
case about two men - nevermind the fact they are gay -
the more universal it becomes.'
When you were reading the script, where you aware that
is was a relationship movie and not just an addition
to queer cinema.
TC: 'As I was reading the script it became less
important what their sexuality was, and it read like
two men talking and arguing and it was more a
CN: 'I liked the fact that it was romantic and
dramatic at the same time, and that you could relate
to these two characters as men, not just gay men'.
I asked the cast and director if they felt that gay
men on British film is still a taboo subject, seeing
as the film has been granted a 18 certificate.
AH: 'The rating does not bother me, because that was
always the plan to aim for that and with this subject
matter it was expected. However what bothers me
is the writing afterwards, where in the box it says
"Hard Sex, Hard Drug use" which I think is a false
representation of the film itself. The drug use
is in one scene and the sex scenes...
TC: ' It's not Trainspotting is it'.
CN: 'If anything, the sex scenes are quite intimate
AH: 'And tender I thought. The rating and wording of
their description makes it sound like a porno. A
gay porno, which is not what we have made.'
But don't you worry that people may think you are
making a political statement?
AH: 'But we aren't. We are telling realistic and
naturalistic love story between two men'.
CN: ' When you are gay, the politics of the age
overshadows your life and becomes part of your
life. It is a shame because I thought we were
living in a post-censorship age when clearly we are
With that our time is up, to clarify there are two sex
scenes in the film between the two central
characters. Neither is graphic, they are shot
realistically and with affection and care for the
characters - unfortunately there is still this
repression in British society surrounding gay men and
their sexuality. Weekend is not ground breaking in its
portrayal of gay men, but you will have to go a long
way to find a film that is both intellectually mature
and ultimately entertaining.