A (sort of) love story … a (sort of) literature …

 

A (sort of) love story … a (sort of) literature …

 

Ok, so I wanted to talk a little about Andrew Haigh’s film Weekend. Whilst this is not intended to be a review of the film, as such, I feel a need to talk about it before I reach my point.

Whilst I sat and watched this film in a cinema in Covent Garden I was sure that the vast majority of the audience were of the LGBT community, which was of no shock to me. However, what did…perhaps shock is the wrong word… but what did take me unexpectedly were the universal themes at work in the film and its characters, regardless of the main relationship being that between two men.

The film centres around two guys, Glen and Russell, excellently portrayed by Chris New and Tom Cullen in an unassumingly honest and gentle way. To call it a romance would probably not sit well, nor be the intention of the writer/director, but it is a (sort of) love story nonetheless. The two meet in a bar one night and what both anticipate to become a one night stand evolves over the course of one weekend into something unexpected – a moment of ecstasy one night transverses into questions of love, windows of opportunity and relationships.

Waking up the next morning, still half naked and in the sheets from the night before, the awkwardness of the situation is soon extrapolated by Glen shoving a Dictaphone into Russell’s face and informing him he is part of an ‘art project’. He then asks Glen numerous questions about the previous evening and records his responses, saying he will become part of the art if he “makes the grade”.

The morning after transcends into an afternoon, then another evening, and melds into a whole weekend of conversation, introverted self discovery and sexual exploration. Whilst neither of the two seems to know what they want from the other, a bond nonetheless forms, which is complicated by the fact that Glen is leaving the next day to join an art course in America, where he will be staying indefinitely to pursue his career and ‘art’.

“…when you first sleep with someone you don’t know, you’re like the blank canvas, and it gives you an opportunity to project onto that canvas who you want to be”

We also discover over conversations between the two that Russell has a list of all the guys he has slept with over the years, coupled with a paragraph of writing detailing their ‘coming out’ story. A subject which fascinates him due to the fact that he was a foster child who never had true ‘parents’ and so never experienced ‘coming out’ to his family. In missing this gay rite-of-passage in his life, he seems to be collecting the experiences of everyone else he meets in compounding his own homosexual identity.

Whilst the film is a liberal, artsy conversational piece, it is quite unassuming and not in-your-face as might be expected, nor does it feel forced or claustrophobic, but holds a great and touching realism, with some beautiful shots that would make excellent still photos. Without then giving away the end of the film for those who haven’t seen it, it then turns to the question of whether the two leave their relationship as Glen leaves for America or whether they want to dive into the depths of love out of lust. What could be a typical run through the rain to stop the other from leaving, is actually a much more realistic and touching depiction of fighting over your head and your heart, believing in opportunity, fate, and the desire for love.

It is Glen’s art project and Russell’s list that have stayed with me from the film in terms of myself as a writer. Since I saw the film a few weeks ago, it has inspired me to look at some of the writing and other things I have done in my life that I have not before considered to be ‘literature’ or ‘art’; not least because I myself have a list or log very similar to Russell’s of the people I have slept with. Whilst my list does not chronicle the ‘coming out’ stories of its inhabitants, it does provide snapshots of me, my life and my sexual identity. I have written many poems and short stories and even used my experiences as catalysts for longer prose pieces, but it wasn’t until watching this film and feeling the beauty of both Glen’s Art and Russell’s list that I looked at my log from a new perspective. I actually came home that night and read my log with new eyes, and for the first time it was not just a list, not just a chronicle of parts of my life, but I actually saw it as ‘literature’, as ‘Art’… even though perhaps not something I will ever want to share publically, but still…

It is a question that always has me pondering, and has always had thinkers wondering over the centuries, but what is it that makes something suddenly become ‘literature’ or ‘art’?

Here is the trailer, and if you haven’t seen the film, I would strongly recommend it, and not just to the LGBT community…

 

  • Rich Mallender =]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUU_WzRBHX4

 

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