Thursday, March 14, 2019

SXSW with Abe: The Weekend

I’m excited to be attending the film festival at South by Southwest for the second time, and I’ll be posting reviews throughout the week as I see as many movies as possible!

The Weekend
Directed by Stella Meghie
Festival Favorites

Characters who have been dumped and haven’t gotten over it, even if it’s been a very long time, are often found in film and television. Going away for a weekend that proves transformative is a frequent device, one that can be extremely enticing to watch and can also feel previously explored without a fresh compelling angle from which to see it. Having the ex that has caused so much strife be one of the friends with whom the protagonist is vacationing definitely changes the situation, and, in this case, makes what could have been a lackluster film considerably more engaging.

Zadie (Sasheer Zamata) is a stand-up comedian who frequently describes herself in her sets as “extremely single.” Even though her relationship with Bradford (Tone Bell) ended three years earlier, she hasn’t moved on, which is made more difficult by the fact that the high school sweethearts are still best friends. When they go away to the bed and breakfast run by her mother (Kym Whitley) for the weekend, Bradford invites his new girlfriend Margo (DeWanda Wise) along, irritating Zadie and putting Bradford on edge as a result. The presence of another lodger, Aubrey (Y’lan Noel), presents Zadie with an unexpected opportunity for romance that creates plenty of tension with an overprotective Bradford and neglected Margo.

This film succeeds well at creating an involving narrative with just five characters, set mostly in one place. There is no overarching style to this film that defines or frames it; instead, events occur and conversations happen without too much fanfare. That makes it an accessible experience, one made all the more inviting due to Zadie’s casual nature and her inability to be serious even for a moment, constantly making a joke either at her expense or designed to chip away at Bradford and Margo’s relationship.

Zamata, who was a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” for several years, is the best reason to see this film, demonstrating enormous potential and a natural talent as Zadie. Bell and Noel offer considerable support as the two men that are the focus of her attention, and Wise and Whitley contribute positively as well. The straightforward nature of this film works to its advantage, and though it doesn’t feel as if it’s breaking any new ground, what it’s trying to do, it does well and serves as a perfectly adequate look at how (not) to get over a breakup.


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