The Weekend (2013)

Posted: October 25, 2013 in Movie Reviews

Cast: Carson Elrod, Amber Gray, Gretchen Hall and Heather Lind

Director: Brian Avers

Synopsis: Brought together by their friends upcoming nuptials and move cross country, former camp mates reunite with a few new friends for a weekend to remember.

Review:  Brian Avers’ directorial debut The Weekend is a charming, hilarious movie that will have audience members retelling their own stories as soon as the credits are done rolling. The film begins with a group of childhood friends (and a few “newbies”) arriving at a cottage for a weekend-long celebration of their past, and an upcoming wedding.  Past bonds are rediscovered, and relationships are tested throughout the movie. The Weekend features a cast of very talented actors and actresses, who have all appeared in theater, film and television. The whole ensemble has excellent chemistry, which allows the film to feel extremely realistic. There are many moments of hilarity and moments of meaningful conversation.  Every viewer will connect to at least one character in the movie, either personally or because they remind you of someone you know. Every cast member is brilliant in his or her performance. The Weekend is the definition of a strong ensemble performance: standouts include Sophia (Stacey Yen), Hallsey (David Ross), and Victoire (Heather Lind). Sophia is a writer of children’s books, who is struggling in her own life, and from the moment she begins to explain how her cats ran away, the audience feels her struggle with loneliness and life in general. There were moments where I felt like I connected with Sophia the most throughout the movie. The audience might realize from early on that Hallsey could be masking some problems with alcohol.  The character has different interactions within the group, however, most are confrontational. The last character that stood out was Victoire, who lives in the neighborhood. The moment when she meets the group, the audience can feel a sense of trouble. Victoire has some of the funniest interactions with the male characters. Avers’ choice to shoot in real–time makes the film feel extremely realistic and allows the audience to feel like part of the group. It makes the audience remember their own friendships and the goofy things that were done in the past. The audience can feel the emotion within each interaction between the characters. The sound of the film is superb. The music selection and the silence during certain scenes, allows the film to flow.  The Weekend could be one of the most realistic, honest and hilarious movies that has been released in a long time. Anyone who loves a movie with a good sense of humor – as well as a great story – will love The Weekend.

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Dead Man Down (2013)

Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, and Dominic Cooper

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Synopsis:  When loss unites the lives of two strangers, will seeking revenge cause them to move on or form a friendship?

Review:

Niels Arden Oplev teams back up with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actress Noomi Rapace in Dead Man Down. The film is slow to build as the viewer learns more about the characters back-stories, which allows for a volatile final act. The two main characters, Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Rapace), are both dealing with a loss in their lives. Both characters self-narrate their own back-stories. The director allows viewers to learn how these two characters were brought together before the intensity grows.

Along with Farrell and Rapace, Dominic Cooper plays Victor’s friend and crime solving wise-guy, Darcy. Cooper gives a good performance as part of the second storyline.Terrence Howard plays Alphonse, Victor and Darcy’s crime boss. Howard’s performance is a little over the top as a crime kingpin, especially in the final act. One surprise in the casting was Armand Assante, who plays a business man with very little screen time.

Colin Farrell shines in this movie. His character’s grief, as well as his conscience, shows throughout the movie. The viewer can feel how each part of Victor’s plan is emotionally exhausting. This could be one of Farrell’s better performances. Noomi Rapace brings so much emotion to her character without uttering a single word. Her performance was a delight to watch. One scene between Victor and Beatrice has so much heartbreak. It wasn’t just the dialogue, but the reaction of each actor. Both Rapace and Farrell convey so much through their expressions that the viewer can feel the heartbreak.

Once the 117 minutes begin to connect the story lines, the movie goes by quickly. The film feels very intimate due to the close-ups of the main cast members. Viewers feel as though they are sitting in the room with each character on-screen. The pace of the story quickens throughout the film, which keeps the audience present. Some of the scenes shot in the city felt unrealistic. One example is the sniper shooting, because cops took too long to respond to shots. The unrealistic feel was not a major problem in the scheme of the movie, but the scene felt improbable.

Upon watching Dead Man Down a second time, I noticed the quality of the sound. Some scenes lacked sound and it felt right to inject silence in that moment. One example of this was the scene when Victor drops Beatrice off after he does what she asks. That moment of quiet conveys more than any music or sound could. Another scene where sound plays a small role is Victor and Darcy’s face-off at the end. There is very little dialogue or sound. The only sound that is present is the sprinklers. There are some different languages throughout the movie that have subtitles. Most of the music is subtle, expect for one song that is played twice in the movie. The song stands out during the movie because it is in French.

The film had some flaws, but Dead Man Down is an entertaining, intelligent thriller that is worth a look.