TIFF Review: The Weekend

Filed under: Reviews, Festivals

The Weekend is a sharp romantic comedy that boasts a key component missing in most romcoms: it's funny. Like, really funny.

The film opens with aspiring comedian Zadie (Sasheer Zamada) performing a set at a small comedy club. She lays down self-deprecating jokes about what a mess she is, how her friends gave up inviting her to parties, and how she is woefully perpetually single.

We quickly learn that it's not just an act. At the root of her self-respect struggles is the fact that she hasn't gotten over her ex-boyfriend, Bradford (Tone Bell). They've remained close friends in the three years since their breakup, which seems to only make it harder for Zadie to move on.

She invites Bradford to her mom's rural bed and breakfast for a weekend, and he brings along his current long-term love, Margo (DeWanda Wise). Zadie, as one can imagine, isn't thrilled.

Zadie makes a connection with another guest, Aubrey (Y'lan Noel), who saves her from being the third wheel. But it doesn't stop Zadie from embarrassing Bradford and taking Margo down a notch at any opportunity, with antagonistic and passive-aggressive comments.

Zadie might have come across as pathetic in the hands of another actor, but Zamata makes her character pop. She lands every one of Zadie's blunt jabs, and what she can accomplish with a simple glance is equally devastating (it's clearly SNL's loss that Zamata was only in the cast for one season). Despite her lack of perfection, we're rooting for Zadie to find love, and figure out how to love herself again.

Canadian-born writer/director Stella Meghie created characters with depth and flaws, not the kind of caricatures that Hollywood too often churns out in this genre. There's no clear villain, there's no easy solution, there's no wacky misunderstanding. It's simply four people figuring out what they want, with human behavior providing the comedy (and plenty of it).

The Weekend is the most satisfying romantic comedy in recent memory. If there's any justice, The Weekend will be the next The Big Sick.

The Weekend was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, with a wide release date TBA.

Tags: Tiff 2018, Toronto International Film Festival, The Weekend

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Sharilyn has written on comedy, television, and film for publications such as The Toronto Star, The A.V. Club, and Vanity Fair, as well as on CBC Radio. You can follow her on Twitter at @sharilynj.

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