Friday, November 15, 2019

3-Day Weekend Review

There is something refreshingly uncomfortable about a movie with eight speaking parts when not a single one is a heterosexual person. An all-gay cast allows a filmmaker to dance right over the normal topics in films featuring homosexuals: the inevitable coming out, conflicts over sexuality, a misinterpreted platonic friendship, assumptions about preferences…those kind of things. Instead, writer/director Rob Williams´ ("Long Term Relationship," "Back Soon") "3-Day Weekend" puts eight gay males together to see how they react to one another in an idyllic environment away from the awkward glare of mainstream society.

Jason (Douglas Myers) and Cooper (Derek Long) retreat to a cabin in the woods during long weekends with their current partner´s (Simon and Ace, respectively). This year, they decide to open up the house to select others. Jason invites an IT guy from work named Mac; Simon invites an escort by the name of Andre; Cameron, a friend of Ace´s, shows up; as does Kevin, a New Age yoga instructor. The proverbial shit hits the fan when Andre is recognized as an escort, throwing the entire weekend into chaos.

"3-Day Weekend" starts out as badly as a low-budget movie can. With stilted dialogue and wooden acting straight out of a badly produced porn, I was certain this would be an excruciating 84-minutes. Williams wants his script and characters to be hip and current so badly he injects a MySpace reference early on that feels disingenuous at the worst or a badly placed product placement at the best. The entire film manages to turn itself around near the 20 minute mark, as the characters chat on the patio on the first day.

Mac (Chris Carlisle) and Cooper engage in a healthy debate over the state of gay films with Cooper arguing having some kind of legacy-even if it is one centered on AIDS-is a positive while Mac takes the opposite tack. This exchange, and the sequence as a whole, shows a certain social consciousness on Williams´ part. At its core, this story is about sex: who´s sleeping with whom and the effects those couplings have on other people. But Williams never lets the script take a side in any of those conversations. They simply exist, as they do in real life. That is to say while aspects of the plot may be exaggerated for dramatic effect, they adhere so closely to what might happen in reality, we can forgive a lot of the hyperbole.

Even so, the script needed an additional level of polish, considering the short thrift given to at least one character: Cameron. Actor Joel Harrison tends not to have a storyline to himself; instead, he´s shoehorned into the Ace/Cooper relationship ever so slightly and then finds Andre orbiting his circle. Even when he is the subject of a scene (the conversation about becoming an escort, for instance), it´s not truly about Cameron in any meaningful way. There is a hint of something bigger and better for Cameron late in the film, though the story never has the guts to actually show the audience the eventual outcome.

While the turmoil for Jason and Simon is the dramatic center of the film, the heart lies with Kevin and Mac. Initially laugh-worthy for his New Age lexicon, Kevin turns out to be the most grounded of the group, as well as the most sensual and sensitive. With the naïve Mac, he projects a personae of caring and true affection instead of simply looking to have sex. Their relationship is given the most time to breathe, courtesy of several scenes devoted to the two of them. They make the audience want to see a follow up, preferably with Kevin and Mac as the only holdovers, to continue the story.

Why did I just say Kevin and Mac should be the only characters to come back for a new story? Because we can´t get our arms around the other relationships in any meaningful way. Yes, Cooper and Ace is a sweet story unto itself (the older man/younger man phenomenon), but there is no conflict or drama for the two of them. And the Simon/Jason/Andre trio goes embarrassingly overboard. To accept Jason and Simon have an open relationship is one thing; it is a fact of life for both gay and straight couples. But to then argue Simon invited Andre because he has no friends is utterly preposterous. I´m amazed Derek Meeker could utter the lines without rolling his eyes.