And if that’s the only bad thing I’ve got to say about ‘Weekend’, then it’s safe to conclude that we’re in high quality indie territory and settle back to discuss a big-hearted but unsentimental relationships drama. Though perhaps it’s worth mentioning that if you don’t live in the city, there’s nothing to tip you off that ‘Weekend’ is a Nottingham film. There are no shots of the castle, the Robin Hood statue, the Forest ground, Trent Bridge or its adjacent cricket ground. There are no specifically local references in the dialogue. Even the names of the tram stops – David Lane, Phoenix Park – are generic and could crop up in any city.
Russell is quickly established as not so much closeted but preferring the social equilibrium of a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach to his sexuality. Taking his leave of the hetero bunch as Friday wanes, Russell heads into the city centre and finds a gay bar (Propaganda, in case you were wondering). He wakes up with Glen (Chris New) and the nuances, uncertainties and sweeping passions of the early stages of any new relationship are distilled into a short time frame that proves – for both of them – exhilarating, frustrating and bittersweet in roughly equal measures.
Unlike, say, Linklater’s ‘Before…’ trilogy, where the couple swan around various European cities as if their short time together were as endless as the films seem to be, the stakes in ‘Weekend’ seem immeasurably higher, the moment of separation hurtling towards both of them and so much yet to discover, so much remaining unsaid. Indeed, whereas Linklater’s moony pair are never short of verbiage, Haigh’s characters more often than not experience communication breakdowns, particularly in a single-take argument late in the film that runs for several minutes, during which both of them attempt to break through to each other only to inevitably reach for the wrong words and batter away at the brick wall of opposing opinions rather than trying for the neutral ground of compromise. Which is exactly how any passionate couple will behave: it’s the passion that blinds them.
‘Weekend’ throws itself against the horrible overwhelming totality of that question and finds, if not an answer, then at least a compelling justification for living for the moment.