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TIFF Review: The Weekend – “A delightful comedy”

It’s fairly common that festival viewing tends to revolve around more serious subject matter – case in point the multiple stories of addiction at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (A Million Little Pieces, Beautiful Boy, Vox Lux).  And while these are important tales to be told, it sometimes is nice to take a break and find lighter fare that is still by no means less than.  

The Weekend is a delightful comedy from Canadian writer/director Stella Meghie (Everything, Everything and Jean of the Joneses).  It begins with Zadie (Sasheer Zamata) performing a stand-up routine in a comedy club, most of which concentrates on her being single and the trauma of a break-up – though we learn that happened a few years ago.  Clearly still pining, we meet her ex, Bradford (Tone Bell), with whom she is still friends, picking her up for a weekend at her mother’s B&B.  Oh, and his new girlfriend, Margo (DeWanda Wise), is also along for the ride.  Zadie being the most awkward third wheel ever would have been enough comedy fare, however when a handsome stranger Aubrey (Y’Lan Noel) is added to the mix it forces her to examine what she really wants in life, what she’s been waiting for and why.  

Sasheer Zamata is the perfect Zadie, in her continually rotating collection of cut off jeans and with eyes that shoot daggers, she makes an impressive leading lady here.  Those that have seen her work on Saturday Night Live will be familiar with her comedic talents, but in this scripted role her timing seems effortless, her sarcastic wit sharp and biting.  While the supporting cast is also completely capable, this movie belongs to her.  

Meghie meanwhile has created a film that is reminiscent of some Woody Allen fare (and free from controversy!), right down to the soundtrack that accompanies the movie.  There is a simplicity to The Weekend that is refreshing, and yet the complexity in the interactions of the characters allows the film enough depth to avoid mediocrity.  It’s also not just a romantic comedy, it’s also the story of a woman rediscovering herself and her desires and standing up for herself. 

“I wish someone would marry you so I can stop worrying about you!” Zadie’s mother says. “What is this Little Women?” Zadie retorts.  Zadie doesn’t believe happiness just comes in one package, and she shouldn’t, because neither do we.  It’s clear that Meghie set out to make a film that wasn’t just about a happy ending, that is to say, happiness comes in different forms, even if you don’t always expect it – kind of like discovering The Weekend.  

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