Long Weekend

Long Weekend

2021, R, 91 min. Directed by Stephen Basilone. Starring Finn Wittrock, Zoë Chao, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jim Rash.

REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., March 19, 2021

Long Weekend opens with a shooting star soaring across the Los Angeles skyline, a brief hint that something magical is about to take place. And something magical does happen, sort of. In Basilone’s directorial debut, Bart (Wittrock) is sick, although it’s unclear with what, but it’s tearing him up emotionally. In a streak of woebegone decisions, Bart finds himself at a midday movie with a giant bottle of whiskey, ready to drink his sorrows away. This is where he meets Vienna (Chao): a dazzling woman who carries around wads of cash, no ID, and mysteriously has broken her cell phone. She’s a manic pixie dream girl, with emphasis on the dream.

As one could guess, the two are immediately charmed by another, and love is in the air. But it doesn’t come without its complications, because Vienna is actually a time traveler from the not-so-distant year of 2052.

Time travel is often a device in romances that creates an obstacle that keeps the two lovers apart, a tool to heighten the drama and intensity of their love. Long Weekend is not interested in that, though. Without any tools to prove she’s from the future, and with the knowledge that Bart himself has been dealing with mental health issues, Vienna’s story is a red flag, and one Bart keeps ignoring because he’s desperate for human connection after his divorce.

Long Weekend’s exploration and normalization of mental health struggles means well, but is unraveled by its ending, which feels like a twist from a mid-2000s Korean drama. Perhaps the gut-punch of the double twist would have played out better if the two leads had any ounce of chemistry on screen, but the script doesn’t give them a lot to work with. Their lack of connection has much less to do with the performances (Wittrock and Chao are charming enough), and more to do with the writing. Basilone plays it safe with his two leads: their conversations are never too deep, sans one story about Vienna stargazing with her dad at a young age. Romances are all about the deep connection, and when that fails, you’ve got nothing to anchor your audience in.

In fact, Long Weekend does in a way feel like it cares more about subverting the manic pixie dream girl trope over its characters’ chemistry. Bart word-for-word calls Vienna that during their meet-cute, and it’s hard to erase the semi-dated reference once it’s brought up, making the frustrating twist a bit on the obvious side. Long Weekend had all the tools to make a wistful, escapist romance that explores and overcomes some of the stigmas of mental health, but it flatlines.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Finn Wittrock Films
Ava DuVernay's plainly spoken look at the underpinnings of bigotry

Kimberley Jones, Jan. 19, 2024

A Mouthful of Air
Postpartum depression colors a kids books writer’s life

Oct. 29, 2021

More by Jenny Nulf
Monkey Man
Dev Patel’s directorial debut is a gritty, nasty piece of work

April 5, 2024

Julio Torres channels dreams of toys, art, and immigration

March 22, 2024


Long Weekend, Stephen Basilone, Finn Wittrock, Zoë Chao, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jim Rash

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle