Tiny Beautiful Things

Tom Cullen and Chris New in Weekend

I don’t know why it took me so long to watch Weekend. It’s been sitting in my Netflix queue for at least a year now. All the critics I trust raved when it came out. The story is simple: Russell and Glen, two twenty-something gay men, go home together and over the course of the next couple days find themselves growing unexpectedly, disarmingly close.

Actually, that first sentence is a complete lie. I know exactly why I avoided this beautiful little film: I believed, correctly, that it would cut me to the bone.

I am a sucker, in life and in art, for intense and immediate connections. The feeling that against reason and all your hang ups, you’ve found a kindred spirit. Sometimes those connections are short lived, and sometimes they’re the foundation for something life-changing. Weekend captures that feeling perfectly, how exciting it is, how there’s always tension around the possibility that the connection will prove false. The feeling of wanting to lay yourself bare. Of knowing you absolutely can’t.

Weekend is a particular sort of film that I love intensely when done well. These meandering stories where very little happens but the depth and evolution of the characters and their relationships are so precisely drawn that plot proves inessential. Linklater’s Before trilogy is this concept perfected (I haven’t seen it yet, but I get the sense that Boyhood has much the same quality).

These are films where the small moments stay with you: in Before Sunrise, it’s Jesse and Celine pressed up against each other in a record store listening booth. In Before Sunset, it’s the moment where Jesse confesses his dreams and Celine reaches out to touch him, but draws her hand back before he notices. This one gesture reveals so much about her, and it’s just between Celine and the viewer. A secret, shared moment.

In Weekend, the whole film feels like that moment stretched out over the course of an hour and a half. The growing intimacy sneaks up on the audience almost as subtly as it does for the men in the film. That first morning Russell makes them instant coffee and they chat awkwardly–the typical aftermath of a one-night stand. By the end, Glen is the one making coffee and moving around the apartment like he’s lived there for years when it’s only been one day. They don’t know exactly why, but this time things weren’t typical at all. And in a movie like this the why doesn’t matter, because the believability of their romance does all the work.

I watched Weekend twice in one day because I couldn’t get it out of my head. The last time I did that was with Half Nelson, which is also a small story in its way. Both times I went back so quickly because I knew there was so much more to get out of these films and I wanted to dive right back into the worlds they created. I wanted to remember my own whirlwind romances and unlikely connections. I wanted to write about movies again for the first time in a very long while.

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