A fairly obvious NYC taste making, career determining gay crowd skillfully imported for the screening by Adam Kersh, the eager beaver publicist.
I arrived with Benoit Denizet-Lewis and the Little Dog stuffed into his traveling bag.
I had heard ahead of time that The Weekend by Andrew Haigh was ‘severely flawed’, so not to expect much.
Immediately it started I was drawn (homesick) into the spare, urban, British landscape. Set in the east Midland town of Nottingham. The neo-brutalist, ex-council estate provides a gritty working class back drop for this very British film.
The concrete tower blocks and congested ring roads determining the drama as much as the delicious dialogue.
It’s Friday night and Glen and Russell have met for the first time. They do what so many of us do…pack an entire relationship into one weekend.
Russell, late twenties, is a charming, meticulous man who likes ‘old things’. He never came out to his parents because, as a foster kid, he never knew them. Glen, a more experienced, angry man (also in his late twenties) has been severely hurt by a lying, cheating ex lover and is unwilling to let himself believe that he can love again.
They burn through the weekend with passion, drugs and frantic conversation. They fuck and suck and talk and snort and smoke and gaze. Like so many gay men they are just trying to work it all out, what it means, where they are going…who they are. In less adept hands these long, rambling conversations might have seemed pretentious, stilted or boring but Andrew Haigh is a skilled film maker and there is a palpable tension throughout the film that made it compelling and at times…glorious.
Americans have exalted the performances which are indeed pitch perfect but as a Brit I really wouldn’t expect anything less. These actors are trained at what they do. It never amazes me when I see a good British actor do his thing. I expect it.
Americans slaver over the ‘realism’.
When the film ended Benoit introduced me to the nay sayer.
“You thought the film was bad?’ I asked him. He nodded. ”You’re an idiot.” I snapped.
The Weekend is an elegant, charming portrait of something many of us do and few of us bother remembering let alone shaping into a work of art. The film could be defined by the small amount of money that made it. Static shots, minimal coverage etc. but it shouldn’t.
If you have the inclination, please see this film.
We headed to Spring Street where the after party took place at ex pat Nick Denton‘s (owns Gawker) large Soho loft.
The gays settled into their cocktails. They talked about the film, were amused by the differences. ”Nobody ever made me a cup of coffee and brought it to me in bed.” one sneered.
I thought to myself, how sad, I love a cup of tea or coffee in bed after a long night of passion.
The gays noticed the instant coffee. I noticed the saucers.
They didn’t understand British drug nuance. Bowl verses rolled joint. They were a little taken aback by the real bodies of two ordinary men who obviously don’t spend hours in the gym.
Nobody really talked about the conversations these men were having.
I met the director Andrew Haigh who knew my films and was very sweet to me.
We talked about The Film Council, BAFTA etc. It is a delight to see him doing so well. Being so well received. We talked about how they gush over you when you first arrive in America. Their compliments seem disingenuous.
We laughed that at home in Britain both of us were told that our work wouldn’t ‘mean anything’ to anyone other than ourselves. That’s what they say at home…then suddenly you’re at Sundance and they change their minds.
We both won the Outfest audience award.
I was proud of him. I know what it feels like to make that first film. To have it well received.
There is a moment when the two men, in bed facing one another, role-play a ‘coming out’ for Russell who doesn’t have parents. It is touching and beautiful.
After the after party I took the Little Dog home and then uncharacteristically decided to go out again.
I hung at The Standard with Benoit’s gorgeous friends and drank expensive diet coke. It was total freak night at The Bain. Like a Nina Hagen tribute party. I flirted with the beautiful blond, met a photographer I thought I knew. Two black boys came up to me and asked if I was ‘Duncan from the ‘A’ List New York’.
The view over Manhattan from that roof top is sublime.
I took a cab home at 2am.
I was glad that I had met Russell and Glen.
I had identified with both of them and had healed for doing so.