Russell and Glen's relationship doesn't begin in a romantic, or even remarkable, way. While cruising a gay bar, Russell (Tom Cullen) picks up Glen (Chris New) in the bathroom after failing to catch the eye of other men in the club. They dance awkwardly and go home together, and at this point Glen's face has yet to even be shown. But the encounter becomes more than an anonymous one-night stand the next morning when Glen pulls out a recorder and wants to interview Russell for an art project. This initiates the intimacy that is the center of British filmmaker Andrew Haigh's quiet Weekend, which is a tender, almost documentary-style rendering of an evolving romance that, for many reasons, is probably doomed.
The two men are different: Russell works an uneventful job as a lifeguard and is unassuming, uneasy in nearly every social situation and cagey about divulging even basic details for Glen's interview project; Glen is erratic, terrified of being tied down and is loud and frank about his sex life. Both men are uncomfortable and alone in their respective lives, both of which center around straight friends and acquaintances with whom they don't seem to have the best relationships. Russell and Glen spend two days together doing drugs, having sex and talking a lot, all while an expiration date looms large: Glen reveals he's moving to America at the end of the weekend for an art course.
Like the similar film Before Sunrise, it's unclear if it's compatibility or a deadline that's fueling the romance; who knows if the two would stay together if one of them didn't have to get on a train in the end. But also like Before Sunrise, it's engrossing to be a voyeur of this weekend tryst, with the characters' easy chemistry, some quiet erotic moments and interesting conversations involving Russell and Glen's differing ways of navigating their sexuality. The fleeting encounter forces them to examine themselves in an unprecedented, profound way. Weekend screenings are part of the New Orleans Film Festival. Tickets $10 general admission, $8 New Orleans Film Society members. — Lauren LaBorde
Oct. 18 & 20
9:50 p.m. Tuesday; 10 p.m. Thursday
Theatres at Canal Place, The Shops at Canal Place, 365 Canal St., third floor, 581-5400; www.neworleansfilmsociety.org