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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REVIEW – Weekend (2011)

FilmJuice have my review of Andrew Haigh’s relationship drama Weekend.

The film tells the story of two gay men who meet in a club and spend the night together. Upon waking, Glenn (Chris New) sticks a tape recorder under Russell’s (Tom Cullen) nose and asks him to give detailed feedback about the sex and the way the pair met. Horrified by Glenn’s frankness and yet compelled to accede to his request out of affection and desire, Russell begins to talk and when Russell begins to talk the one night stand slowly begins to transform into a relationship. Weekend is the story of how two very different people strive to overcome their differences in order to find enough common ground to exist as a couple:

It seems faintly absurd that, in this day and age, we should feel obliged to make the case for why it is that more straight people should watch gay films. Many fans of gay independent film will stress the educational benefits of watching a film about people unlike yourself but this makes it all sound a little bit too much like homework. People should not seek out Andrew Haigh’s Weekend because they feel obliged to be supportive of minority filmmaking or because they want to see something a bit different and exotic. The case for watching Haigh’s Weekend is the same for watching any great film: Watch it because it will help you to better understand yourself. In fact, Weekend is the single most grown-up film about human relationships that you will see this year and that is true regardless of who you are and how you live your life.

Needless to say, I adored this film and recommend it to anyone and everyone who happens upon this blog post. So many films deal in relationships and bndy about words like ‘love’, ‘desire’ and ‘loneliness’ but few actually address what those words actually mean. Weekend is one of those films.