Weekend: Honest depiction of homophobia in everyday life

Directed by Andrew Haigh
Out now, selected release

WEEKEND IS a beautiful and sad film about same-sex love. The most impressive and unique thing about this movie is how true to life it is.
In too many mainstream films and TV shows that portray gay and lesbian life, even in a positive light, the characters inhabit a fantasy world where everyone is filthy rich (think of the The L Word) and where the characters rarely experience homophobia (like last year’s The Kids Are Alright). Many of the better films, like Brokeback Mountain or A Single Man, are tragedies. But Weekend captures much more of the day-to-day experience of being in a same-sex relationship and facing homophobia.
Russell meets Glen at a gay nightclub and after they spend the night together, Glen interviews Russell in the morning for an art project. They fall for each other, but find one another challenging—and central to this is the two characters’ different approaches to dealing with their oppression.
Glen yells out Russell’s window at someone shouting homophobic insults and gets into an argument with a pub owner who doesn’t appreciate how loudly Glen is discussing his sex life. Russell, however, doesn’t discuss his personal life with his straight friends. He is hesitant to express his affection for Glen in public.
There is one particular scene that is painfully familiar. Russell is on the train, on his way to a date with Glen, listening to a bunch of school kids say cruel things about someone they think is gay, even imitating his supposedly “gay walk”. You can see the anger on his face, but he doesn’t move and says nothing. There is an element of self-loathing in Russell’s restraint that Glen’s confrontational attitude begins to challenge.
More than 40 years on from the birth of the gay liberation movement, Weekend shows us the reality of the still-hostile world in which LGBT people navigate their lives and relationships. That a basic human right like same-sex marriage is unlikely to pass through the Australian parliament when it is debated this year is another sign of that. But despite how grim reality might be, Weekend helps send a message that it’s a world we can challenge.
Amy Thomas


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