March 12th, 2021
MOVIE: LONG WEEKEND
STARRING: FINN WITTROCK, ZOE CHAO, DAMON WAYANS JR., WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY, CASEY WILSON
DIRECTED BY: STEPHEN BASILONE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
With the world needing a bit of sunshine these days, Long Weekend is the fresh and delightful take that pulled on the old heartstrings. It’s the kind of romance that helped us fall in love in the past…or maybe it’s the future? Director/writer Stephen Basilone has put together a kindhearted affair to get behind. It’s about a guy named Bart (Finn Wittrock), he’s depressed, recovering from a hard breakup and recently losing his job. He’s in need of good luck and a start over. One night, after a lazy, boozy trip to the movies, Bart meets Vienna (Zoe Chao). She’s a laid back, bright face, and up for grabbing a drink at a dive-bar with a guy she just met. There’s an immediate spark of romance, shared laughter over bad impressions of Al Pacino, good food, and deep glances. As the night winds down, Vienna reveals she’s only in town for the weekend, but Bart still doesn’t fully know who she is, what she does for a living, or even where she lives. The mystery keeps it interesting, Bart just has to find out more, and now the two end up spending the entire weekend together. There’s plenty of love in the air during Long Weekend, but there’s a running clock, mixing in a dash of sci-fi, a lot of charm, and making it the one romantic movie you don’t want to miss out on.
The story starts on a Friday night. It’s the next day where Brett discovers the true mystery of Vienna, she reveals that she’s not a person from this time, but from the distant future. It’s now a matter of if Bart actually believes her, and the one thing that helps deter from any disbelief is that these two have such a beautiful, unspoken connection. They share in their struggles of life, losing loved ones, an appreciation for music, and the arts. As their conversations go on, the connection becomes unbreakable. Vienna sings a song and you can just see Bart is quickly falling in love with this special person that just happened to find her way into his timeline.
One of the usual problems we can see in a romantic comedy is a narrative that grows too cheesy or forgets how to write actual human beings. For first time director Stephen Basilone, it’s the depth of these characters that he knocks out of the park. It also helps to have two charming leads in Wittrock and Chao, both playing the characters to their strengths. Wittrock has the slick looks that made him a perfect fit for The Big Short, but his delivery as Bart is a kind hearted guy, with strokes of bad luck, fully convincing you he deserves to find love. For Chao she has the charming presence we see from the likes of Drew Berrymore in Never Been Kissed, but the confident strength of Andi MacDowell in Groundhog Day. She’s destined to be another star America falls in love with as well. With each passing moment, the chemistry never fades, and it becomes increasingly clear, along with the crisp screenplay by Basilone, that these three incredible talents make Long Weekend a beautiful romance that can’t be denied.
I would also be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention the other highlight of Long Weekend which is the supporting cast. We see brief interactions with Wendi McLendon-Covey as a friendly and frustrated landlord, Jim Rash as Bart’s new chatty boss, but the best comes from Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr. as the friendly couple that lets Bart move in with them. They are kind because they welcome a friend in need, but as the story progresses, and when Bart opens up about this new love from the future, it is Wayans that brings the perfect blend of sarcastic humor and an ear to listen. Long Weekend won’t squash Wayans’ exceptional comedic timing, but it will add that he can be a great dramatic actor as well.
Long Weekend walks the fine line, getting the romantic movie right, blending a dash of the supernatural, balancing the serious with the humorous, and bringing it home in the end. It reminded me of a mixture of Safety Not Guaranteed or Click, where there’s not a question of villains, or characters that you hate. It’s about two people in the universe that find one another and the audience is glad to be a fly on the wall. The writing and directing from Stephen Basilone is inspired, delivering a bright collaboration for hopeless romantics, and filled with genuine heart. Long Weekend will leave a smile on your face today and beyond into the future.
LONG WEEKEND IS PLAYING MARCH 12TH IN SELECT THEATERS
Written by: Leo Brady