I could go on and on and on about how much I loved the film Weekend (2011) directed by Andrew Haigh. Finally a movie has been made that is a simply a love story of two people who happen to be gay. Since I had to watch this film for my queer film class, I have to compare this beautiful film to the tragic Brokeback Mountain (2005) directed by Ang Lee.
To start, Brokeback Mountain is a film about two gay lovers based on the short story written by Anne Proulx. Long story short, the main characters played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, are so scared to come out of the closet due to family and societal stigma that they marry women and have children. Each year they go on a fishing trip for years that consists of them just having sex. They are horrible husbands and horrible fathers and the film ends in tragedy when one of them is killed which is why they never came out in the first place.
Many say Brokeback Mountain didn’t win the best film of the year due to homophobia but when we discussed this in class, one of my classmates said it didn’t win because it is just a really shitty movie. Writer K. Hart (2013) put it perfectly “just how ‘groundbreaking’ is [Brokeback Mountain] really?” (p.129). I would agree with that to some extent because I do think this film had some strengths even though it was just executed really poorly.
L. Arellano (2007) stated “Brokeback Mountain constructs gay characters as powerless and tragic victims of forces beyond their control; simultaneously, the film preserves heterosexual privilege by obscuring the ways that heteronormativity produces an abjected other through erasure and exclusion” (p. 59). I don’t like the way this film portrayed gay men and I hate even more that one of them ends up dead which is how most queer films end when they are done by directors that are not part of the queer community and when they are done to make money and not tell an accurate story.
Another writer, C. Casey (2012), wrote “the ‘magic’ of Brokeback Mountain represents simultaneously the compelling passion of same-sex and the intensity of the closet that represses, condenses, and regulates queer subjectivity” (p.109). This film does have a lot of passion to the point that it over sexualizes the relationship between the main characters. The who relationship is based on hypersexualization instead of showing what a real relationship would be like.
What I do like about this film is that it gave exposure to a crowd that would not have otherwise seen a gay film. I also like that it has helped set the tone of how queer film should be, the exact opposite of Brokeback Mountain which is what happened in the film, Weekend.
Weekend was directed and filmed in such a way that it is just telling a story of two people connecting. The main characters Russel and Glen are played by Tom Cullen and Chris New. They meet at a night club and proceed to go home together. After that night, they know they have a connection. They are pretty opposite but it just works for them. They then of course spend the weekend together because their time is limited because Glen has to leave to study in the states. I love they way they are around each other. Their conversations have meaning and there is a scene where they are sitting on the couch just looking at eachother and at the viewer, you can feel the energy between them. It made me grin ear to ear.
This movie is so realistic. The only thing that may have seemed off for some viewers was the heavy drug use of marijuana and cocaine but the director could have made drugs a factor for numerous reasons. I love that the characters are so different. Glen is an outspoken, proud, gay man while Russel is meek, reserved, and not very “out” about his sexuality though his close friends know.
This film is the perfect example of how gay film should be. Brokeback Mountain is a sorry excuse of a film compared to Weekend.
Arellano, L. (2007). The gay film that wasn’t: The heterosexual suppliment in Brokeback Mountain. p. 59-70.
Casey, C. (2012). “The imagined power:” The specter of hate crime in Brokeback Mountain. p. 105-126.
Haigh, A. (Director). 2011. Weekend. United Kingdom: Glendale Picture Company.
Hart. K. (2013). Retrograde story telling or queer cinematic triumph? The (not so) groundbreaking qualitites of the film Brokeback Moutain. p. 129-137.