Ian Thomas Malone



June 2023



Pride Film: Weekend

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

LGBTQ people often have a tendency to develop extremely close bonds with intimate partners in short periods of time. For a community that knows ostracization and stigmatization all too well, the high of a new crush can supersede any concerns for the longevity of such passion, a mandate to live in the present without worrying about a tomorrow that brings almost certain doom. “No day but today” is less a mantra than a steadfast rule for survival.

The film Weekend follows one of those casual, curiously intense encounters between two homosexuals on very different life trajectories. Russell (Tom Cullen) is a lifeguard with many reservations about his sexuality, preferring the anonymity of a gay club to more flamboyant, public settings. He meets Glen (Chris New), an artistic free-spirit, who keeps a collection of audio recordings of all of his hookups in an effort to unpack the difference between the people they are, and the individuals they aspire to be within the world of hookup culture. Glen’s imminent emigration to America puts a speedy timetable on their courtship, the two spending most of the weekend together partaking in the expedited bonding ritual that LGBTQ people know all too well.

Director/writer Andrew Haigh crafts an intimate portrait of Nottingham queer life that already feels like a bit of a time capsule barely a decade down the road from its 2011 release. The script’s stream-of-consciousness execution carries a degree of authenticity that any LGBTQ person would recognize. Cullen and New possess a keen sense of chemistry that works well for the film’s intentions, two people who don’t need to be perfect for each other in the long haul when the next 48 hours will suffice.

The narrative does spend quite a bit of time on the nature of the closet, often at the expense of a much more interesting examination of gay hookups as a whole. Haigh produces one of the best defenses of the fleeting temporality that often defines gay relations, a film that captures the joys of hookup culture alongside its many real tropes. People who live existences defined by repression naturally find euphoria through the release of the pressure valve. Gay relationships are often way too intense right from the start, but that’s also part of the magic of finding someone who sees you, for you.

The real crowning achievement of Weekend is that it genuinely feels like a gay movie made for gay people. Despite its fascination with LGBTQ-101 mainstays like the closet, the film also earnestly unpacks the natural baggage that comes with trying to find yourself amidst a world that constantly encourages queer people to partition off parts of ourselves for the comfort of the world around us. Haigh doesn’t look away from the vibrancy of that reality within his narrative, but he works without the constraints of straight comfort oozing from the finished product either.

Weekend is some of the most effective lived-in LGBTQ storytelling presented on film. You may not want to emulate the courtship of Russell and Glen to see the appeal in these fleeting encounters that often mean the world to gay folk. You don’t have to spend forever with someone to feel the weight of their presence in your life. Sometimes, a weekend is more than enough.