Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Weekend Away: Movie Review

Campy thriller told as a serious drama.
I feel more disappointed by The Weekend Away than I did by Netflix’s last popular murder mystery-thriller Brazen. The Weekend Away isn’t as trashy or quite as low-budget and presents a much more serious dramatic air, but that’s kind of the problem. If I have to take this seriously, then I’m disappointed by the weak acting, the bad dialogue, and the weird editing which minimizes all the supporting characters.   2022

Directed by: Kim Farrant

Screenplay by: Sarah Alderson

Starring: Leighton Meester, Christina Wolfe

The premise is half – ‘been there, done that’ – with the whole American girl on a European vacation and is suddenly in jail for murdering her best friend, which has mostly been done by more serious movies; it’s also half pulpy mystery with what was Kate up to? The serious angle and dramatic story it ends up telling isn’t as much fun as a trashy mystery, a la Brazen.

At first, the casting really works. It’s nice to see Leighton Meester with her hair in a ponytail, playing the grown-up introvert and tired mom. Beth’s an easy character to like, but the plot outpaces the script’s and Leighton Meester’s abilities. Suddenly Beth is on the run from the corrupt cops and she’s this hyper-intense not-quite-an-action-hero victim. And this serious air that the film’s been trying to present just doesn’t work.

There’s decent pacing at the beginning. Efficient introduction to Beth and her husband and baby back home. Kate is her whirlwind best friend. Much more of a mystery, but she’s supposed to be. Personally I think she should have remained more of a mystery with Beth uncovering tantalizing secrets, but instead Beth is painted as the murderer relatively early and the pacing slows down as the film plays up its serious side and the important story it’s telling about the role of women in society.

There’s essentially two endings here, and I don’t like either of them. One is better suited for a much more serious film that is trying to warn society about prejudices that exist everywhere we go. The other ending is much better suited for a trashy pulpy mystery. It really feels like a movie that’s trying to have the best of both worlds – we’re a serious drama, please take us seriously, but ooh, this would be dirty fun.

The important message that The Weekend Away is trying to tell is significantly cheapened since the film works better as a trashy mystery, but it can never really decide if it’s a drama with a social message or a campy film that just throws out all rules and tells a trashy tale of love and murder.