Just got back from seeing Andrew Haigh's Weekend, which has just shot straight into the top three contenders for the KINOLENS Best Film of 2011. Set (surprisingly enough) over the course of a weekend, Weekend follows Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), two men who pick each other up in a club on a Friday night. What starts off as a one night stand quickly turns into an incredibly deep and emotional experience for both of them, but seeing as Glen is moving to America in two days time, their relationship has an intensely finite dimension to it.
A film which hinges completely on two main characters cannot afford to skimp on the acting skill; if Russell and Glen aren't utterly real and believable, then the whole thing falls to pieces before it's even begun. Luckily, Cullen and New seem to fall into these roles without even trying. We see these two characters for only two days out of their entire lives; the two days where their lives interconnect. Although the immediacy of the situation is a key factor in why the film is so intense, it's clear that these are characters who are both defined by their pasts. Cullen and New conjure their characters, and the seperate histories of their characters, so effortlessly that at times the fourth wall seems not to break, but to dissolve. Weekend is not a film; it's a window.
Earlier today the writer Bret Easton Ellis tweeted words to the effect that although Weekend is a brilliant film, you'll never convince the straights to go to see it. Unfortunately, this is probably true. In fact, you'll probably never convince most of the gays to go to see it either. You will never see Weekend, or a film like Weekend, with a full house. Unless it's a press screening, and even then you'd be lucky. You'll have to look hard to find it showing at a popular multiplex, or on a screen that's any bigger than your bedroom wall. You have to hunt down films like this, grab them and hold on for dear life; otherwise they get made, they cause a small storm among film buffs and critics, then they get forgotten about, because that's what happens to queer cinema when it gets washed away by the mainstream. Eyes Wide Open, Shelter, Beautiful Thing, Maurice, Angels in America, Milk, My Beautiful Launderette, Hedwig and the Angry Inch: these are all fantastic films - but almost no bugger has heard of them. The sad truth is that it doesn't matter how fantastic your movie is; if you're gay, (or to a lesser extent, female) the mainstream film industry doesn't give a damn.
If you search out and watch one non-Hollywood movie this year, make it Andrew Haigh's Weekend, which is a KINOLENS Film of the Moment. Every so often someone will crack out one of these bad boys and remind everybody just how good British film can be, so take advantage of it.