Writer/director Neil LaBute is back to exploring and breaking boundaries about sex.

The world of Neil LaBute is filled with boundary-pushing material and filled with non-subtle statements about the sex lives of adults. Never one for being straight-laced, LaBute uses his background and work in theater to write intimate portraits of characters and their interactions with one another. Dirty Weekend is his latest, but the film itself is a little more tame and reserved in comparison to his past work.

Les Moore (Matthew Broderick) and Natalie Hamilton (Alice Eve) find themselves stuck in the middle of Albuquerque’s airport on the way to Dallas for an important business meeting. Les is trying to escape his work colleague in order to go into town to find… well, he’s not sure what it is exactly he’s looking for, but the night he spent in Albuquerque many months ago still haunts him and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it. Natalie, refusing to let him go off alone, wriggles her way behind his discomfort and awkwardness for the situation and as the two of them search for what Les is looking for they start to get to know each other. Secrets are shared, conversations are had, and realizations are made, but not in the way you would assume.

The title is exceptionally misleading. While it does pertain to the story, Dirty Weekend is not a romance nor is it a sexy romp of a film. Matthew Broderick plays a man whose fidgety discomfort with the unusual sexual encounter he had is more agonizing to him than the fact that he cheated on his wife. Alice Eve, who continues to branch out and really prove herself as an actress, plays a woman who is equally uncomfortable with her own sexual relationship with her girlfriend but is a bit more open about being ok with the idea of adults and their sexual habits in comparison to Broderick.

The script is wordy, filled with conversations that take the characters from one point to another with secrets being revealed around every corner. The slight tension and rigidity of the pair’s relationship at first is palpable, considering their working relationship and the fact that most people don’t disclose their intimate lives with others. It plays front and center and leaves the story unbound to any attempts at being a charming, predictable film. However, LaBute holds himself back a bit and the ending, rather than being something akin to his 2013 film, Some Velvet Morning, just kind of ends without as much gusto.

Eve’s character has her own backstory, but it isn’t given as much attention as Broderick’s. Their relationship thankfully doesn’t end with the two of them falling for each other but rather, they become strangely reliant on each other’s support. While the film explores and questions certain ideas about sex and how some things can be made normal if you’re ok with them, Dirty Weekend is intimate and follows an intriguing journey with two very different people, but it never truly builds itself up as it should. This makes for an intriguing, but unfortunately still very tame and more mainstream kind of film, which is unlike LaBute. Mediocre but leaves more to be desired.

3star

 

Release Date: September 4, 2015 | Written and Directed by: Neil LaBute | Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alice Eve, Phil Burke, Gia Crovatin | Genre: Drama | MPAA Rating: Not Rated

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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