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Having heard great things about the film "Weekend," I took a friend to the International Film Center (IFC) here in NYC to see it. Of course, like most films in the "gay genre," I had limited expectations.
As I entered the IFC, however, the theatre was already packed with gay men. I started to become more hopeful.
Ninety minutes or so later – the movie ended; and NO one moved from their chairs. An entire audience had been left silent in front of a black, blank screen. On the way out, not a single negative reaction was overheard.
The film was uniquely modern, based in intellectual dialogue and executed perfectly; foraging thought with a smile of sensuality.
I must admit, I left the film quite surprised. It was reflective and revolutionary, yet very simple. The sex scenes were enduring and necessary.
The music pleasantly appropriate, with beautiful, non-distracting cinematography.
To summarize the plot is not something I will do here – my hope is for people to see this film. Besides, I often feel summaries take away a movie’s first impressions and unique, personal intimacy.
Instead, I wish to share a few of the amazing insights I received, thanks to the creator/writer/director, Andrew Haigh.
The movie has at least three "Aha! moments," where you literally stop and reflect – during the movie, interestingly enough – and say to yourself, “Wow, you know, that is true. I wonder if I am that way … ?”
Aha! Moment #1 – “Weekend” captures the simple, yet powerful concept of how we talk about the physical acts of gay sex -- even among our own LGBT circle of friends and lovers – with a mindset toward censorship.
In the movie, we see that even in our modern, semi-equal world of sexual rights, love, and legitimacy, most still struggle to feel comfortable speaking publicly about the physical acts of gay sex.
In particular, the movie brings to light how unfair and disrespectful it is to censor conversations about the physical acts of same-sex sex, especially if done so because it is thought to be taboo, or "gross." Or even more surprisingly, still filtered among a gay-friendly audience. To do so, the movie points out, is to force this beautiful expression of love into a world of innuendo and humor.
It was like the film called the audience to action, saying “Enough! Be respectful of all sex – love the act of homosexual sex as much as heterosexual sex.”
The characters in “Weekend” leave you believing that talking about sex between gay men can be as descriptive as possible and still leave you with the confidence that it is just as beautiful; as human and as normal, as talking about sex between heterosexuals.
Aha! Moment #2 – “Weekend” gets it, about who we are when we first meet someone we are “interested” in.
The movie distills a concept about how the space between what we project to our new interest and where we actually are in life – if they are indeed different – suggests to us what we need to do to get to that place of what we are projecting.
In other words, when you first meet someone who you are attracted to, and with whom you desire to have sex, or intimacy, or relationship, you come to that situation not knowing each other, whatsoever. Thus, it is like a blank slate of opportunity. You can communicate to that other person anything you want them to believe about you and who you are – especially if the encounter is expected to be short-lived. It can be either the truth, or not.
The movie is quick to point out that more often than not, these initial projections are not the truth, but instead projections of who you would like to be portrayed as. Therefore, it is at this moment where a great opportunity presents itself. It is this space between who you are projecting yourself to be, versus where you actually are in your current station in life, that can guide you down a path of where you need to go.
This space between what you are telling a new face versus what in reality is your actual life should serve as a guide to where you still need to get to in life – a spiritual awakening of sorts – a call to action for your life.
What makes the movie so beautiful, however, is that both characters – even though they only spend a weekend together – were both truthful with their initial projections, leading them down a path of intense love, intrigue, and comfortable exploration.
Aha! Moment #3 – “Weekend” forces a reconsideration for those who believe “one-night-stands” are negative, or unhealthy – or something not right.
Because the movie lives very much in the present, the now, you get a real sense about why these negative concepts simply are not true. Not only are they not true for the reasons discussed above, but because in reality, life is all about moments. And, people often act out of need for growth, or pending urgency, and even simple, undirected love.
“Weekend” helps redefine the possibility of being okay with momentary encounters, casual sex, and possible heartbreak. It makes you believe again in fun, human, same-sex encounters without boundaries.
Although I focus on just these three “Aha! Moments” –- there are several more to be sure -- because each character has unique attributes with which each one of us can identify, helping to bring out more relevance, reflection, and beauty that is “Weekend.”
Enjoy the film – it is a must see.
Thomas Hughes, Esq., was born and raised in San Diego. After attending college in Northern California, Thomas returned to Southern California in 2003 to obtain his law degree. He practiced criminal law as an openly gay attorney for nearly five years as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. In late 2010, Thomas left the practice of law to pursue his dreams of teaching and traveling. In 2011, Thomas left for Changsha, China, to teach college students English. In addition, he joined Teach for America Corps to concurrently teach English within New York City. Thomas will be traveling extensively during these next three years, and sharing these adventures with a gay perspective, through his social column QueerVentures.