|Director: Kim Farrant
|Screenplay: Sarah Alderson (based on her novel)
|Stars: Leighton Meester (Beth), Christina Wolfe (Kate), Ziad Bakri (Zain), Luke Norris (Rob), Amar Bukvic (Pavic), Iva Mihalic (Kovac), Adrian Pezdirc (Sebastian), Marko Braic (Luka), Lujo Kuncevic (Mateo), Parth Thakerar (Jay), Sinisa Novkovic (Taxi Driver)
|MPAA Rating: PG-13
|Year of Release: 2022
Nothing goes right for poor Beth (Leighton Meester) in The Weekend Away. The titular outing to a seaside resort in Croatia with her best friend Kate (Christina Wolfe) starts out so well, with Kate having secured a posh penthouse overlooking the beach at the expense of her recent ex-husband. Beth’s husband, Rob (Luke Norris), has stayed at home with their new baby, giving her a couple of days of girl time with Kate. However, as great as all that sounds, early on there are intimations of problems to come, including the fact that Kate is dramatically more outgoing and risk-taking than Beth, who is fairly plain, conservative, and more concerned about making sure she has time to pump than hitting the clubs. There is also the early revelation that her marriage is not exactly on fire right now, which Kate takes as license to push Beth as much as possible, which is why they end their first night drunk out of their minds and heading back to their rental with two male escorts they picked up at a club.
And then there’s the next morning—which is basically The Hangover minus the comedy. Beth wakes up bleary and confused, with little in the way of memory regarding the night before except a few flashes of leaving the club and some incident that caused either her or Kate to yell out “Bitch!” And then there’s Kate—or rather, there isn’t Kate, because she has mysteriously vanished. Beth nervously waits for her, but she never shows, which causes her to worry that something bad has happened (the film’s opening shot of a body floating face-down in the ocean does not portend good things). She goes to the police, where she meets resistance from an arrogant, dismissive detective, although his female partner seems at least willing to hear her out. She calls Kate’s ex-husband, Jay (Parth Thakerar), who assures her that Kate is just trying to get attention. But Beth knows better.
Which, of course she does. Something is definitely not right, and one of the pleasures of The Weekend Away is the manner in which it slowly reveals the extent of just how not right things are—not just regarding the titular weekend, but Beth’s life in general. The film turns out to be a young wife / mother’s nightmare, as her world is turned upside down by revelation after revelation, at one point putting her in the legal crosshairs of being accused of murder and later discovering a depth of interpersonal betrayal that she otherwise could have never imagined. The nightmare the film proffers is that Beth’s staid, steady life is just a ruse, a waking dream of comfortable, don’t-rock-the-boat normality that blinds her to what is truly going on. Beth, as it turns out, is utterly alone in her life because everyone around her is harboring secrets.
The director, Kim Farrant, previously helmed the Australian psychodrama Strangerland (2015), which was also about the revelation of dark secrets, although in a way that was much more in the vein of dark, European art-film than The Weekend Away, which is essentially a glorified Lifetime thriller. Screenwriter Sarah Alderson, who adapted her own novel, gives the events just enough plausibility to make it all work, although it is also held together by Leighton Meester, who has starred in dozens of films and television series, but is probably still best remembered for her long-running role on Gossip Girl (2007–2012). Although Beth is a rather generic stand-in for simple, conventional living, Meester gives her just enough of an edge that we sense she might be capable of much more than is initially apparent. Her increasing desperation gives the movie its momentum, and even when the formula begins to show, you can’t quite help but get sucked into it.
Copyright © 2022 James Kendrick
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