Reel Straight SXSW: ‘Weekend’ Review

Beyond all the red carpet hoopla and the long lines, there were genuine independent films alongside the big-names on the marquees at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Weekend was one of the movies hardly anyone had heard about. But by the end of the awards ceremony on March 15, the film’s director Andrew Haigh walked away with the Emerging Visions Audience Award . At that point, I hadn’t had the chance to see the film, but I was intrigued. I trusted my fellow audience members, and what I found was an incredible story of love, attraction, and life.

Weekend follows Russell, a gay man living the young, adventurous life in England. Escaping from friends he can’t be open with, Russell finds his way to a gay bar and at the end of the night, finds himself a bedmate. From the next morning on, they realize just how incredibly attracted to each other they are. The passion that grows in front of the camera is honest but is tested when his newly found beau announces he is leaving for the States in just a few days.

Weekend covers the span of three days. The movie is a brisk 90 minutes through the 72 hours that change these men’s lives. This film was possibly the most human one I saw at South by Southwest. Nothing hidden or edited out, the guys’ faults are just a part of them as their quirks and charm. They didn’t feel like characters in a movie or actors acting out a scene. Their relationship took root and grew in front of the audience. If anything, this movie can reinstate whatever good feelings you have about love, being in love, and falling freely in love. It is an emotional, raw story regardless of the boundaries of time and discrimination. I can’t ask for anything better from a romance.

I know the homosexual issue is going to be a potential problem with viewers. It was the same ordeal that befell Brokeback Mountain. Well, even more so than Brokeback Mountain, Weekend de-fetishistizes and de-glamourizes gay love. It’s unabashedly honest, in a naked-walking-around-the-apartment kind of way. The movie is set in your average flat, through the dirty roads, and past the rundown industrial palaces of yore. Weekend owns a feel of lived-in legitimacy that most movies dealing with this subject matter lack. Boys Don’t Cry is so gritty and tragically violent, so we distance ourselves from it. The Bird Cage is so over-the-top we laugh at it. I feel as if I easily related to some of the same feelings and emotions this couple went through. Plus, the looming edge of a forced departure carries its little dark cloud over young love. It’s a pain that many who have left for college or a job may know. And it is these kinds of moments that strip any differences between you and the story away.

I’m happy to report Weekend was picked up for distribution by Sundance Selects and will be distributed sometime later this year. Keep an eye out for it.

Daring yet charmingly British, Weekend boldly addresses the issues of young love in the modern era and the problems facing homosexual love. It is a gripping, heartfelt story that has you cheering for them to get together within the first twenty minutes. And they do, but then you want them to stay together forever. Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to share our minds and bodies with? If you can’t look past your prejudices and realize this, you’re missing out.

Don’t believe in “Love at first sight?” Well, get your faith restored with Weekend: A

About Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo (CAS '11) is a Film writer for the Quad. Drawn into the world of film studies accidentally, she's continued on writing, writing, and writing about film since. She also co-writes on another blog,, which is about even geekier film stuff. If you have the time, she would love to watch a movie with you.

View all posts by Monica Castillo →

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