Will Straight Audiences Be Flocking To See Weekend‘s Award-Winning Gay Love Scenes?

A living participant in the Stonewall riots called Andrew Haigh’s Weekend the most accurate cinematic depiction of a gay relationship that he’s ever seen. It follows a three-day romance between Glen and John, two handsome Brits who meet at a gay bar. Indeed, SXSW audiences have already voted Haigh’s film as the best feature-length among 18 other “new and emerging” directors—both for its intimate camera work and its matter-of-fact depiction of sex, drugs, and anti-gay prejudice. But as Weekend now seeks a distributor, the film’s success depends on how well can it woo audiences outside the artsy festival.

If A Beautiful Thing and Get Real spring to mind when you think of gay British film, know this: Haight’s Weekend is nothing like those decade-old rom-coms. Weekend has not so much as a single pop song in it. Instead it reveals Glen and Russell everyday lives. They discuss gay bashings, cheating, and marriage equality but they’re not central to the plot. Glen and Russell aren’t closeted teenagers, they’re young men, a quiet lifeguard and an aspiring artist. They’re everyday people instead of heroic figures tackling teenage melodrama, AIDS, drug addiction, and club music.

They also binge drink, smoke weed, snort coke, and get it on. It all seems very “mumblecore” at first, but Haigh’s honest depiction of drugs, sex, and vulnerability feel authentic and similar to many modern relationships, both gay or straight. The director says, “It’s not just about being gay, it is just about these two guys trying to fit into the world and [concerning that, it] doesn’t matter what your sexuality is… Everybody has something that they’re trying to do with their lives and trying to work out how to achieve what they want and get what they want.”

Haigh has submitted Weekend to queer and straight film festivals with hopes that it continues to gain an audience. Nevertheless, the director admits that many straight film lovers still won’t go to see “a gay film” like his because they believe such films aim specifically towards gay audiences and issues. A Beautiful Thing and Get Real both only ever gained limited success because they were geared towards gay-friendly audiences. And while gay TV characters continue chip away the prejudices of a home audience, they do so only by featuring gay characters in a larger straight context.

Weekend‘s success depends partially on how well Haigh’s audiences connect to his characters and how well his eventual distributors market the film. But Haigh’s film won’t build a lasting bridge between straight audiences and gay characters; not all on its own. His bold yet understated work merely adds a significant part to the overall structure of the possibilities of gay film and one can expect more nuanced, startling, and honest portrayals of gays in film as a result.

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  • justiceontherocks

    How in the blue hell is a three day hook up after meeting at a bar the “most accurate cinematic description of a gay relationship”??
    How are binge drink and drug snorting the foundations of a successful relationship? Everyday people are not too numb from using their drug(s) of choice to function.

    The movie is a metaphor for drunk people hooking up and staying together until one of them needed to change his underwear. Nothing more.

  • Chad

    Book and cover, Justiceontherocks. I’m sure the person quoted is referring to the dialog, the pacing, the cinematography —as opposed to the circumstances.

  • kayla

    A movie about druggies “the most accurate cinematic depiction of a gay relationship”? Is Queerty getting funding from NOM and FRC now? This is a joke right…..

  • That Bitch Téa Delgado

    Clearly, one’s mileage will very, but I remember my 20s and, indeed, I had a weekend spent with a wonderful guy who, unfortunately, didn’t live in the same city, but it was an unforgettable 48 hours of two men connecting, sexually, emotionally, mentally.

    Can’t wait to see this movie, I’m hearing nothing but good things about it.

    Oh, and by the way, it’s just “Beautiful Thing.” There’s no “A” in the title.

  • soakman

    I agree with Delgado. I would’t say that the hook-up part is the part that is particularly accurate to gay men. I think that’s jut accurate for the whole of the 20-something lifestyle.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that this story does remind me of at least one of my own experiences.

    It’s not a gay thing, believe me. My straight guy friends can totally relate.

  • Mark

    @justiceontherocks: I agree completely! 3 days equates a relationship? For the love of pete! And drugs, binge drinking do as well? Sorry but the mark is waayyyyy missed on this one. FRC and NOM will have a field day with this one.

  • Shannon1981

    I hope that sex and drugs and partying are not what these film makers are painting as typical gay life to straight people. Sure it is true for some gays, and it might even be true more often than not(though I really don’t think it is). But it doesn’t help the cause to do this, and, at any rate, it doesn’t sound like any typical gay relationship.

  • Daniel

    @Mark: I used the word “relationship” not to equate that a 3-day pairing with a LTR but rather to say that Glen and Russell both invest a lot more time and intimacy than the typical hookup.

    As for the drugs, it’s exceptional to me that so other films rarely show drug use unless it’s for a huge tripped-out visual sequence, druggie humor, or a cautionary tale. This movie merely acknowledges actual recreational use without condemning its users; pretty revolutionary if you ask me.

  • justiceontherocks

    @Daniel: You’re a writer. Good writers use words well. This film is not about a relationship or a romance. It’s about a hook up. There’s nothing wrong with people hooking up, but there’s plenty wrong with calling something ephemeral a relationship.

    As for how movies portray drug use, I’m not sure when was the last time you went to a movie, but hundreds of them have included recreational drug use. Nothing is unusual about that at all.

  • Aaron

    The real question is; did they get completely straight actors to play the characters? Because if they did, then this isn’t a revolutionary or different movie. It’s just the same BS we always get. Also, why would anybody here defend doing coke and binge drinking? Smoking pot is one thing, but snorting coke can (literally) kill you on the first try if you aren’t smart with the dose. And recreational use is much worse. Binge drinking kills your liver, too. And no, I’m not some government lackey fallowing the ads. It’s true; there’s a reason coke and binge drinking don’t have good reps.

  • Lornie_Chan

    I think there may be a bit of the point being missed…
    Yes, I agree the circumstances are not a good representation of a gay relationship, but I think the point is, simply:

    It is about two people, both with issues, living in modern, flawed britain, having some kind of fling, or relationship which is cut short for some reason we’ll learn I’m sure.

    The fact that they are gay, if you were reading, is just a side point, and although they discuss issues such as prejudice, its not the main focus of the film. The idea is to have a gripping love story, in which the characters are gay, without it ALL being about being gay, ya get me??

  • Jeffrey Winter

    Hey Guys — I have actually SEEN this film and trust me you are overreacting to your fear of it painting gay relationships in a bad light. QUITE THE OPPOSITE….It really IS one of the most honest, moving, true-to life, beautiful depictions of the first painful stages of love you’ll ever see in your life (gay OR straight).

    Most twenty-somethings do drink and do drugs (again gay and straight)…and especially those Europeans in dreary little towns like the one in the film! But that has nothing to do with the central premise of the film…..how do you open yourself up to the possibility of love?

    When the characters meet its a given that the relationship can only last a few days….so it has nothing to do with gay promiscuity either.

    Remember…its best to SEE a film before you comment on it! And you will LOVE this one…..I promise most of you will have had a similar experience you can relate to.

  • Sean F.

    Here we go with whiny, psycho queens of Queerty. Really? Debating the quality of an article because of the author’s use of the word “relationship”? How sad that that is the best anyone can contribute to this conversation. Maybe someone should point out that realistically this film has no chance of being a giant hit, not just because it’s about a “gay relationship,” but because this sort of movie isn’t really very popular right now in general. “Blue Valentine” didn’t exactly set fire to the box office.

    Oh and by the way, there is nothing wrong with his use of “relationship.” During those 3 days those 2 people were certainly in a relationship with each other, even if only a brief one. It wouldn’t seem grammatically wrong to hear someone discuss their interactions with a coworker by saying, “My relationship with [insert name here] has been deteriorating.” One could even refer to the neighbor they have only ever spoken to a handful of times the same way. So if you MUST nitpick, at least try to be correct.

  • Aaron

    I should be clear that I actually agree with the people saying it’s stupid to bash the film for having drugs and whatnot, and I could care less about the drugs and binge drinking so long as it isn’t something like a “If you do pot you’re evil” or “doing coke is awesome!” message (which it doesn’t seem like it is).

    However, I will refuse to see this film if they decided to get 100% straight actors to play the characters. I’m so sick and tired of films and TV shows pulling that bullshit.

  • TwlightoftheDogs

    My guess- if the writer of the article had chosen to focus on the quality of the movie for what it is (the best description I have heard that made me curious to see it is “Before Sunrise”) rather than turning the movie into some kind of story of gay relationships- there would be very little to comment on here.

    The truth is- the movie sounds interesting. I will check it out. But, not for representing a gay relationship. The writer’s point about distribution is well taken.

    If you want to write a really good aricle of some value to gays here and to the gay blogland- dig deeper into the lack of distribution even for quality truly indie gay flicks. time was- unknowns could make a great movie, and we would see it in a theatre some place. Beautiful thing or My Beautiful Laundrette, etc. were starring virtual unknowns, and british at that- at the time. Yet, in today’s landscape- I doubt we will see many more of those. I hope I am wrong.

  • James P. Perez

    Okay, I have also SEEN the movie this past weekend. It is… honestly… one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time and certainly one of the best gay movies I’ve seen… ever.

    The two actors have a chemistry that was astounding and the camera just stayed in one spot and let them go though each scene without many cuts – and yet they were able to keep a really good rhythm. there were a lot of subtleties, and a few metaphors (windows, new shoes) but we were not hit over the head with them (thank god). It was brilliant and well crafted, beautiful and emotional without being sappy. In fact, the movie holds back a lot allowing the movie goer to take the emotion as far or as little as they want… making it perfect for cynics, but WONDERFUL for you romantic types.

    The two characters… very different in nature (and Russ is impossibly hot… lol), start to grow and maneuver – almost trade places if you will. NOT enough to make some large, grandiose epiphany… this isn’t the Little fucking Mermaid. But it’s a gentle progression and in that progression many (if not all) homosexuals can find a spot in which they relate. the out, proud flamboyant “sexual robust” meets the shy, half-closeted meek wall flower. And as we watch them learn, we can easily project ourselves. I was sitting with someone out only a year, and I have been out for 12. Both of us related to this movie – but for very different reasons.

    It was quite sharp in it’s execution and presentation, and for THAT, I tore a “5 of 5” in the ballet. it was a ‘relationship’. but it’s not a typical relationship – and the relationship one has with themselves somehow comes through as an underlying theme. there was a lot i liked about the movie without going into the “gay” area… but i will stop babbling. I really hope it gets picked up!

  • Jeffrey Winter

    WEEKEND is very much in the tradition of BEAUTIFUL THING or MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE. Smaller and more intimate, but of similar quality.

    And all the press have been comparing it to BEFORE SUNRISE. That is a very apt comparison.

  • Ramon

    So, I don’t understand what the heck does a “A living participant in the Stonewall riots” has to do with anything. If one was present at some historic event then they are able to accurately understand and profoundly express human relationships as depicted in a film?

    This asinine statement is nothing more than hyperbole as a lead-in for a poorly written PR fluff piece.

    Take a few more night classes in criticism at the community college before your next article.

  • twilightofthedogs

    @Jeffrey Winter: Well, two of the those movies are very different from each other. So, I am not sure what to make of your comparison of Weekend to them. As I said, it would probably be better to stop with the hyperbole. A great movie can be ruined by fucking with expectations about what one will see when one goes to see it. Word of mouth is how this movie is going to happen. Not bullshit hyperbole.

  • James P.

    i posted a full review of the movie on here as I saw it at it’s opening screening at SXSW and i was given the message that it was waiting for review by the Queerty staff. two days later I come back and my comment has been erased. interesting.

  • Jeffree

    @James P: Not sure if this applies to your situation, but it can take Q’ty up to 10 days to review “moderated” posts (maybe more?)!

    @Twilightofthedogs, I agree w/ you on the hyperbole, let a movie stand on its own two feet. I plan to see Weekend (& the Isherwood one) I skimmed the reviews briefly, like I usually do, for basics on storyline, actors, release dates, etc. Nothing wrong with reviews, in principle, but I prefer to go see the movie before getting too caught up in critiques or comparison. I do like to think through my reactions to a movie before reading, say, Anthony Lane or Roger Ebert, etc.

    How I feel about a film usually changes between right after I see it and a few days later.

    I think the Isherwood will attract more viewers than Weekend: not only LGBs but a slew of English lit lovers aka The Merchant&Ivory crowd, lol!

  • Jeffree

    I like crap!

  • joe park

    How moronic. Drug addicts are not “the most realistic cinematic depiction” of gay relationships. AND he says “They’re everyday people instead of heroic figures tackling teenage melodrama, AIDS, drug addiction, and club music.” Asshole. The heroic figures tackling AIDS ARE everyday people!! What planet are you from?

  • joe park

    @Mark: I agree. How great could this “brief encounter” be if all they did in the three days is binge drinking and coke? Wouldn’t the joy of each other’s company take the place of the endless drinking? I will pass on this crap film. It will be no different than the rest of them, always disappointing. The preview looks awful.

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