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Shown in Pittsburgh: ‘Weekend’ (2011)


David L. Eng, in The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (2010), writes about Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together (1997) that the film “garnered well-deserved critical acclaim, yet few reviewers or scholarly critics have focused on the sexual politics of its queer diaspora” (76). He continues, “Indeed, many commentators eschew issues of sexuality altogether, describing Wong’s portrayal of homosexuality as incidental to the film’s central emphasis on emotional deadlock” (76). I think of this in the context of Weekend (2011) for a couple of reasons. One, Happy Together and Weekend share a tape recorder, and both films feature the recorder as a reminder of a charged moment once shared, now lost. Second, I wonder if it’s even a remote possibility to really set aside homosexuality in any sort of discussion about Weekend (or its tape recorder). For one thing, it seems that the spatial tensions that structure the film—indoor/outdoor, quiet/pulsing, work/leisure, private/public—are arranged along a certain timbre of gay sexuality. At one point in the film, Russell (Tom Cullen), one of the film’s two central characters, remarks that he feels fine about his sexual interactions with other men when he’s in his apartment; it’s when he goes outside that he feels otherwise—unsure in some way, unsafe. The serenity of a courtyard, empty and bright, becomes marked as dangerous, inhospitable. Inside, in bed, in the morning, after sex: “I’m more proud of you than if you were the first man to walk on the moon.”