Nights and Weekends (2008)

I have no idea what mumblecore is or where this genre of film came from. If I am to gather from watching this film, it seems like these types of films are more realistic than others, using realistic dialogue (and heavy improvisation) to create a documentary-like experience. Nights and Weekends is my first foray into this genre, and judging by this film, I could get into the rest of it.

The film stars Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg (who also share writer/director credit) as Mattie and James, two lovers who are attempting to make their long distance relationship work. Mattie is in New York going to school, while James is working for a video game company in Chicago. Even though they talk and see each other as much as possible, the tension is getting thicker and could possibly implode if they aren’t careful. The film concentrates on two parts of their relationship: the good times and what happens one year later.

The first twenty minutes were hard to get through, as the dialogue got on my nerves real quick. It wasn’t the Juno effect where the dialogue was so fake that it was obnoxious; in fact, it was the exact opposite. They sounded like real people having real conversations and real fights. The thing was, these are people who I get annoyed at when I hear them talk on the street, so to hear this in a film that’s supposed to entertain me was grating to start out. These were just growing pains though, and as the movie went on, I got completely engrossed.

Nights and Weekends feels like you’re watching a documentary, not a movie. The way that Gerwig and Swanberg act together is so realistic it is almost creepy. A couple of times, I had to make myself remember that this movie was a work of fiction and these two people, Maddie and James, were being played by actors. This is definitely a compliment to the work of Gerwig and Swanberg. They flesh out their characters and although the film only runs 78 minutes, you feel like you’ve known them for much longer. Gerwig especially gives a strong performance as Maddie, as she has the more emotional arc. I’m surprised she doesn’t do more mainstream stuff, but then again, Hollywood would probably water her talent down.

These kinds of movies aren’t for everyone though. Outside of some very minor characters, it’s just the two going about their long distance relationship for the entire movie. While that is tolerable for some, you will not get a whole lot of variety and that may put people off.¬† Nights and Weekends also features a ton of nudity, and I’m not just talking boobs. There’s full frontal everything in this movie, especially Gerwig who apparently got over any self-esteem issues she may have had in her adolescent years. The nudity, however, is tasteful and doesn’t feel like it was just added for kicks. The movie also just feels different from other films, so if you’re used to more mainstream stuff (and even most stuff Hollywood passes off as independent), it takes some time to get used to, the dialogue especially. You may hear people talk like this all time (or you yourself may talk like that), but for some reason it’s hard to watch on a screen.

These are very minor and pathetic quibbles. As a whole, I really liked Nights and Weekends for its realism and its lack of reliance on a budget. It’s perfectly paced, doesn’t wear out its welcome, and has possibly the most realistic relationship I have ever seen on film. If you are looking for a change in your movie diet, I would suggest this film, especially if you don’t harbor any false ideals about love.

Final Verdict:


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