Keep business away from pleasure. Especially if your “pleasure” is crazy kinky.
Les (Matthew Broderick) and Natalie (Alice Eve) are coworkers who are currently going through their own sorts of issues. Both are delayed in the same city where they’re left with nothing more to do than to drink, talk and get to know one another a whole lot better. Through their non-stop conversations, Natalie finds out that Les has a bit of a risque sexual history; one that he’s ashamed of, but one that Natalie wants him to pursue on this little trip of theirs. Still though, Les is foggy on certain details on what happened that night and whom it was with, which gives him and Natalie a journey to set out onto where they meet all sorts of colorful characters, in certain areas of the city that they’d never expected themselves to be found in. But because they have nothing else better to do, they’ll find out whatever it is that they can about this one eventful night in Les’s life, even if Les himself doesn’t want to hear all the nitty, gritty details.
For anybody who knows me, they’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Neil LaBute. Sure, he’s had some stinkers in his life, but for the most part, when he’s making pieces of work that he himself concocts from the ground-up, there’s nothing more entertaining or fun to watch. In the past few years, LaBute’s made something of a comeback with Some Velvet Morning and the terrific, but under-seen TV show, Billy & Billie, all displaying what LaBute does best: Give us a couple of morally-corrupt characters who speak so eloquently that it doesn’t matter how mean and detestable they can sometimes be.
And now, with Dirty Weekend, there’s an odd combination of LaBute’s more mainstream piles of junk, with his indie delights. Which basically turns out to be a piece of indie-junk.
Which is, the worst kind.
Part of the problem with Dirty Weekend isn’t that it’s like everyone of LaBute’s other flicks. Sure, the characters are rude, self-involved and mostly mean, but here, they’re just so annoying that you don’t care for anything they have to say, how they feel, or whatever sort of dilemma they may be going through. We’re literally thrown into a random situation with these two characters, without getting any sort of background info or what have you; it’s just us, watching these two characters having conversations.
Which isn’t a problem with LaBute’s films because he finds ways to make even the most innate conversations seem fun and snappy, but here, he seems lost. He doesn’t know what to make of these characters, or even the plot they may service; so instead, he seems to just make something up to roll with. And what he comes up with is, disappointingly, a random night that Broderick’s character had where he was involved with all sorts of sex and doesn’t know whether he’s gay, or straight, or bi?
If this sounds exciting to you, then please, be my guest and check this movie out.
But if you, like me, feel like there isn’t much of anything to develop or dig into deeper here, then get in line, because it’s just as worse as you expect it be. LaBute is definitely better than this and it makes me wonder why he even bothered in the first place. I’d much rather enjoy seeing one of his plays adapted, rather than watching a piece of original that’s as boring as this.
But a good portion of why Dirty Weekend doesn’t wholly work is because the cast doesn’t seem too involved, either. Alice Eve, despite having done incredibly well in LaBute’s Some Velvet Morning, seems like she’s going through the motions a bit as Natalie. Though it’s never easy to be able to put our finger on just what her intentions are, Eve still seems like her mind is elsewhere and not adding any certain oomph to her line-readings (something that LaBute’s movies always depend on). But I still have to give her credit for trying.
And “trying” is another form of credit I have to give to Broderick here who, despite seeming like he’s doing everything and anything in his power to play against-type, just isn’t able to make it happen. Some of that has to do with the fact that his character is so uninteresting, that it’s hard to really want to watch and listen to whatever this character has to say. Most of the time, anyway, is just spent listening to him whine on and on, without there ever seeming like a reason for it.
Together, the two hardly have any chemistry. Which would have been fine, had the movie not all of a sudden turned into this friendship piece about how close and willing to depend on the other, they are. I didn’t quite buy it, except for the moments where they were bickering with one another; these were probably the only real scenes of actual fun and bite to be found in the whole piece.
Everything else is just as lame as you can possibly get.
Consensus: Boring, overlong, and annoying, Dirty Weekend is the kind of Neil LaBute movie that LaBute-haters love to rant about, even despite Alice Eve’s and Matthew Broderick’s best intentions.
2 / 10