September 20, 2017

Haigh’s Weekend & McQueen’s Shame: Film Reviews

WEEKEND

96 mins
MA rating
Director: Andrew Haigh
Distributor: Rialto
Cast: Tom Cullen & Chris New

I don’t even know where to begin with this film. Some movies just leave you so affected that it’s all you think about for week after seeing it. Weekend for me wasn’t just a film, it was a story so intricate, not only to my life, but to many gay men in this world.

Weekend is a film about Russell (Tom Cullen) who meets Glenn (Chris New) in a bar. They hook up and then spend the weekend together in pubs and bedrooms, taking drugs, getting drunk and discovering each other intimately.

The synopsis may not sound overly exciting but I bet it does sound familiar. And that is what makes this movie so great. The plot is very familiar and, in particular, familiar to gay men. The way the two guys talk to each other and interact with honest natural portrayals, and also how their ideas and opinions are very central to how they operate are incredibly recognizable.

Director Andrew Haigh directs and writes a love story involved with the possibility of meeting someone new. All that excitement and fear is superbly demonstrated by the two lead actors. Russell is very much the passive character, very awkward, but idealistic and romantic. Glenn is the aggressor, creative and somewhat affected by his past relationships. They play out different personalities that speak of gay men’s perspectives on life and of course, their sexuality. It’s not cheesy at all but charming, sentimental and again, honest.

The content is brilliant as well. The film deals with authenticity, identity, self-esteem but Haigh also deals with the subtle aspects of the weight of not fitting in. He was interested to know whether sexuality defines a person and if so why. This ideal is heavily portrayed by Russell and Glenn and is articulately understood.

There is a sex scene in this film which I watched and thought to myself, how is this scene any different from a straight sex scene? How is anything they are discussing or how they are being intimate any different from a straight movie? Absolutely nothing.

Although this is a gay film targeted towards gay men, I beseech you to take as many straight people as you know to see this film. It deserves a wider audience. I left the film not feeling hopeless but hopeful because, in a world full of sex, some still live for love. I give it 5/5.

 
 


SHAME:

101mins
Rating R (Nudity and S3x Scenes)
Director: Steve McQueen
Screenplay: Steve McQueen & Abi Morgan
Cast: Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan

Artist turned director McQueen has again used his muse, Michael Fassbender, to create another stunning piece of cinema that is both provocative and deeply emotional . Previously working together on the 2008 film ‘Hunger’ about Bobby Sands and the 1981 hunger strike in Ireland, McQueen and Fassbender, along with Carey Mulligan, create a film that dives into the world of s3x addiction and familial inconvenience.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a late 30’s man who lives alone with a well established job and a somewhat sterile but expensive apartment. Underneath the superficialities though, lies a man addicted to s3x and, throughout the film, we become introduced to how extensive his compulsion is. It’s compelling to see how intrinsic s3x is to Brandon and devastating to see how he conducts himself as it’s unfolded on the screen.

Guilt and shame plague his world, feeling nothing for anyone until the emergence of his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) arrives. She is dramatic and brings a degree of chaos into Brandon’s life. This conflicts with his tendencies and thus he feels trapped by Sissy’s dependency of him and his subsequent distaste for her life. The baggage of familial past invokes Brandon’s anger and the two siblings are never able to be intimate with each other, instead vying to argue consistently.

However, what emerges is a deeply emotional film that burrows into Brandon’s character and his loss of control. What is discovered is a man that is inherently vulnerable and scared as he chooses to doubt the validity of relationships and consequently love. Fassbender is truly incredible as Brandon and is convincing as a man afflicted with a dark side of human emotion. Mulligan might be the supportive role here, but she credibly leaves her mark as the afflicted Sissy.

All in all, this film is brilliant and I will be a fan of McQueen’s in years to come. I give it 4 ½ out of 5. Brilliant filmmaking, screenplay and performances.

Support film. Love cinema.

2 Comments on Haigh’s Weekend & McQueen’s Shame: Film Reviews

  1. Call yourself a journo?

    You fall in to the ‘greengrocer’ apostrophe when you write 30’s instead of 30s.
    Later you refer to the protagonists in Shame arguing ‘consistently’. Surely you mean constantly?

    Sorry to be pedantic..but someone has to be these days.

  2. Hello Barry,

    Really? Are you really sorry for being pedantic? For some reason I doubt that.

    However, I do agree with my faux pas of the apostrophe and though constantly might have been an equivalent match for consistently, I am still 100% certain about the latter.

    So, to answer your condescending question, yes, I still consider myself a journalist. You might find this hard to believe but journalists, just like humans, aren’t perfect.

    Thank you.

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