Just an ordinary Friday night in Nottingham. Russell (Tom Cullen) stops by a club on his way home from an evening with friends, and wakes up the next morning with Glen (Chris New) in his bed. These two sweet guys, a study in contrasts — Russell is somewhat unsure of himself; Glen is dedicated to his unusual artform, and his unusual perspective on the world — spend the weekend talking and getting drunk and high and having sex and getting to know each other… and it’s all meant to be terribly romantic how they fall in love over the course of a few days. But something doesn’t feel quite right to me. Writer-director Andrew Haigh has a delicate, sensitive touch, and this is appealing as a simple peek into modern romance… or what passes for it. Sex with an attractive stranger might create an instant connection, and a powerful one, but is it love? Is it anything that can endure? Haigh appears to want us to believe that it is and that it can, but there’s a sense of wishful thinking — or even desperation — that I suspect is not intended here. It’s refreshing to see a story about the lives and loves of gay men that is so frank while also so unpolitical, but it does feel like it’s treading familiar ground. It’s Before Sunrise with much of the mystery and the wisdom missing… it’s really only the fact that the couple is gay that distinguishes it from many similar films we’ve seen before. That will be enough for some. But not quite enough for me to love it unreservedly.
viewed during the 55th BFI London Film Festival