Friday, September 4, 2015

Movie with Abe: Dirty Weekend

Dirty Weekend
Directed by Neil LaBute Released September 4, 2015

A film’s title can have different meanings, and as a result it’s helpful when characters do the job of defining exactly what it’s supposed to reference. Shortly into “Dirty Weekend,” Natalie (Alice Eve) cites a term for the type of behavior that two coworkers start to discuss when weather keeps their plane stranded in Albuquerque: a chance to be away and try things that aren’t normally acceptable. For Natalie and Les (Matthew Broderick), their unexpected time spent in Albuquerque provides a gradual and necessary departure from the banality of their everyday life.

As soon as he is introduced, it is entirely clear that Les is an uptight person. He does not like his schedule being disrupted and has a certain way of doing things, but he is also used to being ignored and not being heard. Natalie is also buttoned up in her own way, mainly in that she wears a turtleneck even in hot weather and refuses to disclose details of her personal life. Spending so much time together inevitably leads them to become closer as they begin to open up about their deepest secrets.

“Dirty Weekend” feels a lot like a play, with dialogue and conversations featured frequently with a small, tight-knit cast, including a cab driver (Phil Burke) who consistently appears every time Les and Natalie think to go into town. The setting of Albuquerque, which might as well be any unknown city, is an effective player in its own right, enabling them to experience something different than usual in transit from their base of operations to their delayed business in Dallas.

Ultimately, the film’s success is based on the quality of its performers. Broderick is an established actor who here gets to be as awkward and uncomfortable as possible, something he does well but that doesn’t lead to his being too endearing. Eve, who was charming in “Starter for 10,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “Entourage,” does her best to give the film some charm but also proves a bit too bottled up to be inviting. Paired together, they make for an interesting duo, both appropriately muted but also prone to outbursts of energy, matched well by the calm, cool nature of those few people they encounter more than one in Albuquerque. This film is a fun idea but not one that ever really materializes into a substantial and winning concept.


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