Star rating – 9/10
This beautiful, tender, and moving film by director Andrew Haigh will probably be billed as a gay Brief Encounter, and yes it sort of is that, but it is so much more besides. It would be more accurate to say it is the story of a romance that develops over a single weekend between two people, who happen to be gay men.
It is beautifully acted by the two leads, Tom Cullen and Chris New. New was last seen very recently in the title role of the Royal Exchange’s great production of Edward II, and here he shows that he is just as impressive on the screen as he was on the stage. The dialogue between the two men seems very natural, and although they are obviously following a script, it doesn’t feel like that for a second.
Their love story begins when Russell (Cullen) , who is single, and seems fairly happy with it, leaves the house of his straight friends early during a party, and goes to a gay bar in the centre of Nottingham instead. He finds himself back in his flat the next morning with Glen (New). And they find what was assumed to be a one night stand developing slowly into the promise of something much more.
Homophobia is not made a big issue in this film, but is not ignored either, with a couple of minor incidents just treated as part of the context for the story. The relationship is not over done in any sense, and the interaction between the men is simple and touching. There is a wonderful scene where Russell, who likes old things to fill his 14th floor tower block home, tells Glen gently why he loves the fact that his old second hand flowery, chintzy mug is special to him.
All in all, this is just a beautiful and moving love story about two people who find each other and both feel, whether they say it or not – that it could be much more. It has a haunting soundtrack too, including a few songs by John Grant, whose ‘I Wanna Go To Marz’ over the final credits stays with you for ages, as does the whole film itself.