'Weekend'

Earnest and understated, "Weekend" has the intimate look and feel of a two-character stage play that has been opened up.

Earnest and understated, “Weekend” has the intimate look and feel of a two-character stage play that has been opened up — but only slightly, with minimal addition of supporting players — for a mostly faithful filmization. Winner of the audience award in the Emerging Visions category at the SXSW Film Festival, this Brit-produced drama is modest in scope and ambition. With critical support and sensitive marketing, however, it could score respectable theatrical biz as a date movie for gay couples before attracting more viewers as VOD, cable and homevid fare.

A vet assistant editor whose resume includes collaborations with Ridley Scott (“Black Hawk Down”) and Harmony Korine (“Mister Lonely”), writer-director Andrew Haigh maintains a semi-improvisational tone while focusing on the wary relationship between two young men in Nottingham who may or may not want to develop a one-night stand into something more substantial.

Russell (Tom Cullen), an affable introvert who works as a lifeguard at a public swimming pool, caps off a Friday night of heavy drinking and hopeful cruising by picking up Glen (Chris New), an uninhibited, randy, art gallery employee. During an extended stretch of morning-after repartee, however, Glen alternately discomfits and excites Russell while brandishing a tape recorder and asking detailed questions about what they did and didn’t do in the heat of the moment the night before.

Glen claims the interrogation is for an upcoming art project devoted to gay sexuality. Fairly soon, though, it’s obvious that Glen isn’t clinically detached as much as he is determinedly noncommittal. He announces early on that, late Sunday afternoon, he’ll be leaving Nottingham for an extended stay in the U.S. Still, that gives the two men more than enough time to become increasingly close while sharing drugs, swapping secrets, having sex — and extensively conversing.

Cullen and New develop a compellingly credible give and take, whether they’re debating the merits of gay marriage, confiding long-suppressed yearnings or, in the pic’s funniest scene, discussing the homoerotic appeal of Rupert Graves in “A Room With a View.” There’s an admirably matter-of-fact quality to the spirited coupling of their characters near the end of the pic, for which the actors and their director deserve considerable credit.

Tech values are more than adequate.

Weekend

U.K.

Production

A Sundance Selects (in U.S.) release of a Glendale Picture Co. production in association with the Bureau Film Co., Synchronicity Films and EM Media. Produced by Tristan Goligher. Executive producers, Anna Seifert-Speck, Suzanne Alizart. Co-producer, Clare Mundell. Directed, written, edited by Andrew Haigh.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Ula Pontikos; music, James Edward Baker; production designer, Sarah Finlay; art director, Lorna Dunn; sound, Tim Barker; casting, Kahleen Crawford. Reviewed on DVD, Austin, March 17, 2011. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Emerging Visions.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race, Laura Freeman, Jonathan Wright, Loretto Murray.

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