Greek Pete (2009) — British Rituals of Displacement and Avoidance

Andrew Haigh’s debut film Greek Pete is neither particularly novel nor particular striking. Set in the world of London’s gay escort scene, the film is a scripted drama inspired by the lives of its non-professional actors and shot in a pseudo-documentary style. In other words, it’s a hybrid piece similar to Jersey Shore and The Only Way is Essex albeit with somewhat less theatricality and spray-on tan.

Having watched Greek Pete, I almost decided not to write about it but it occurs to me that while the film’s themes and characters are never quite as interesting as they needed to be, the film actually reveals quite a lot about Haigh’s interests, methods, and the quintessentially British way in which he approaches drama. This makes Greek Pete almost a textbook example of an immature work that is only of historical interest given the quality of the work that would follow it.

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45 Years (2015) — Forever Tainted

Andrew Haigh’s Weekend is about as good a film as Britain has managed to produce fifteen years into the twenty-first century. Set in a London of run-down flats and bleak nights out, it follows a pair of men as they talk their way from a one night stand to the brink of something more meaningful. A powerful response to the growing factionalism of the online world, Weekend’s characters have radically different attitudes towards society and sexuality and yet they still manage to sense something of value in each other. Despite being a very talky film, Weekend is all about those moments of silence in which emotional energies shift and life is made anew. Haigh’s ability to capture what happens in the intimate spaces surrounding conversation is what made Weekend great and what has made 45 Years one of the great unexpected cinematic successes of the summer (despite being released on VOD at the same time and being largely ignored by multiplexes).

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