Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nights and Weekends

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Earnest Romance Drama Examines Emotional Challenges of Long-Distance Relationship in Flux

Mattie (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York while her boyfriend James (Joe Swanberg) makes his home in Chicago, and the distance between them tends to heighten the intensity of the precious little time they get to spend together, for better or worse. Whether they’re feeling pangs of passion, pettiness, jealousy or doubt, their emotions always seem to remain right on the surface.
Less a fully-fleshed out story, than an impressionistic sketch flick which leaves the rudiments of plot structure to the viewer’s imagination, Nights and Weekends is, nonetheless, an engaging slice-of-life adventure as riveting as a train wreck. This claustrophobic feature zeroes-in microscopically on modern-day battle of the sexes, in a manner most reminiscent to such other low-budget pix as Four Eyed Monsters and Swanberg’s own LOL.
Here, Mr. Swanberg shares writing and directorial credits with his comely co-star, which makes sense since most of the script sounds almost improvised. Fortunately, the talented twosome share a compelling screen chemistry (despite not dating in real life) along with an uncanny knack for convincingly portraying characters wrestling with relationship issues.
The point of departure is the Windy City where we find Mattie just arriving at James’ modest crib. The sex-starved pair lovers are so in heat that they tear each other’s clothes off, with the camera capturing full-frontal nudity, including explicit evidence of arousal, if not penetration. In fact, in the spirit of cinema verite we’re later treated to the sight of Mattie not only relieving herself on the toilet but wiping herself as well.
Eventually, the action fast-forwards a year and we learn that things have deteriorated from a state of pneumatic and romantic bliss to one of deception and distrust. Nights and Weekends turns out to be best during those introspective moments when we catch the protagonists musing aloud.
For example, Mattie worries whether or not they will remain together unless she anchors her man with a baby. Otherwise, she fears she’s fated to be reduced to a distant memory that James will refer to in a simple sound bite. He, on the other hand, exhibits his vulnerability by admitting that he has a mental image of himself as more handsome than the mirror reveals.
A frequent-flyer drama examining 21st Century mating habits.

Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 79 minutes
Studio: IFC Films

To see a trailer for Nights and Weekends, visit:

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