Friday, June 4, 2021

Weekenders: Movie Review

Well written indie romance with awful characters.
Weekenders is very minimalistic and indie in its approach. Four people in one house where they talk and drink through their feelings. I have issues with the premise and the very frustrating characters, but the execution is good. The film is surprisingly engaging despite how awful the people are. It’s an odd combination, but filmmaker Erik Bloomquist has serious skills as a writer and scene builder; however, I would never be friends with his friends.   2021

Directed by: Erik Bloomquist

Screenplay by: Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist, and Peyton Michelle Edwards

Starring: Erik Bloomquist, Peyton Michelle Edwards, Ehad Berisha and Maggie McMeans

Harper (Peyton Michelle Edwards) has booked an AirBnB for a solo getaway. A nice, modest house in the country near a small town. Then James (Erik Bloomquist) walks in. His parents own the house and they accidentally gave it to him for the weekend, forgetting about Harper’s AirBnB booking. He apologizes and gets her booking refunded for the confusion, but it’s hers for the weekend. In a normal universe, James goes on his way and the movie ends. Instead, Harper and James start flirting, a lot and incessantly. If you flirt that blatantly with a stranger in the first 5 minutes of meeting, you cannot be surprised when you hook up.

James compliments Harper on her name, “Thanks, it was a birthday gift.” How have I never heard that joke before? Either the writers just came up with a unique and clever response to a compliment on a name, or at the very least convinced me that they did. I like the writing in this movie.

Weekenders has a great setting. A beautiful countryside with walking trails, a lake and fresh air. It’s not remote as in horror movie, it’s serene as in romantic. Harper and James spend the day together just talking. Now, there’s a lot of indie movies that take that approach – build romance through simple conversation. This is a little lacking since the audience doesn’t get to know Harper and James as well as they got to know each other.

The tension (and collapse of the characters) comes in the morning. Harper’s boyfriend arrives. Blake (Ehad Berisha) is the epitome of male aggression. He is obnoxiously belittling to James. And James doesn’t just become jealous, he takes on the most extreme form of jealousy and aggression, then invites over a random hook-up for himself. The movie becomes a male competition of who can get the girl, and the answer is none of these people should be in a relationship at all.

However, they then introduce a game of Paranoia. An accurately titled game which involves secrets and alcohol. Obviously, a volatile combination especially with these people. But that’s why this scene works so well. The pacing is excellent with the slow shifting of people’s perceptions of each other and the slow reveal of who’s willing to go after what they want. The tension builds magnificently, the characters stay true to who they are while their inhibitions start disappearing, and it’s the perfect climax scene to push us towards the resolution. This scene accomplished all that with characters I hate. Imagine how good it would be with some likable characters mixed in.

I really liked the stripped down approach of Weekenders – the setting, the writing, and the minimalistic feel all work really well. But these people should be single, so the romance leaves a lot to desire.