CIFF Review: The Weekend


[Flixist will be attending the 48th Chicago International Film Festival over the next few weeks. Be sure to follow along as we bring you coverage from the longest-running competitive international film festival in the country. You can easily keep track of the coverage here.]

I’m sure we’ve all had a rebellious phase at some point in our lives. I personally was very politically-driven in high school; I attended protests, rallies, and all kinds of left-wing shenanigans. Of course, I grew out of my interest in politics after George W. Bush was re-elected for a second term. However, not all of us “grow out” of our dreams of being an activist with radical views that will shape society into the image they believe to be superior to what’s commonplace.

Would you still hold onto your radical beliefs if they cost you half of your life?

Link to the trailer for The Weekend

The Weekend (Das Wochenende)
Director: Nina Grosse
Rating: TBD
Country: Germany

After being locked away for 18 years, Jens Kessler (Sebastian Koch) is released and soon reunited with his sister, Tina (Barbara Auer). Unbeknownst to him, Tina organized a dinner to celebrate Jens’ release with some old friends, including friend and novelist Henner (Sylvester Groth), Inga (Katja Riemann), and her husband Ulrich (Tobias Moretti). However, it’s soon revealed that Jens and Inga were lovers prior to the former’s imprisonment. Tension builds up amongst the circle as Jens and Ulrich clash with one another… especially after Jens meets Gregor (Robert Gwisdek), the son he never cared to know.

The Weekend plays out much like a family drama where each relative has an uneasy relationship with one another, yet are forced to interact with one another due to their unspoken bonds. Old wounds are gingerly touched upon, but are then slashed open with accusations thrown around at who’ve “sold out” and who simply just matured. The film captures a small slice of life of a revolutionary reuniting with friends who once shared his beliefs, but are currently completely different people than who he used to know.

What I enjoyed about The Weekend was the harsh contrast between Jens and Ulrich. Whereas Ulrich is a pretentious, educated fancy chef with hoity toity truffles, Jens is a revolutionary who attempted (and failed) to topple capitalism in Germany. While the contrasting distinctions between the two are overtly obvious, what captivated me the most beyond their apparent differences is the ideologies each shared and how their lives reflected such beliefs. The film doesn’t delve into the politics or Jens’ actions that landed him in jail (beyond a few passing references and small implications), which I also appreciated. The focus isn’t on Jens’ past, but his understanding and acceptance of his present with regards to his past.

The Weekend takes place in a modest forest home, so the settings change between the house interior, the woods, and the small areas around the area. Given the natural environment, the film has a cool color tone to it, with an excess of blues, greens, and browns. It’s a nice touch for a film with muddy relationships. 

The Weekend is a decent film that analyzes a rebel’s uncertain present through the scope of his youth’s mistakes (or triumphs, depending on how you see things). If you’re interested in slightly tense dramas, this film might be your cup of tea. It definitely could have been more tantalizing and with more emotion, but it was still an overall enjoyable film.