At last year’s EIFF there was a film called SoulBoy, a coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the Northern Soul scene of the early 1970s. It was an utterly predictable and formulaic piece of work which benefited from the infectious nature of the music itself and the energy conveyed in its dance scenes.
This year’s EIFF has Weekender, which takes much the same story – including cartoon-like bad guy and romantic will they / won’t they subplot – and sets it against the backdrop of the rave scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It suffers by comparison for the fact that the music and dancing aren’t that interesting unless you’re in the same state as the participants, namely tripping out on MDMA.
Worse, even when taken on its own terms, it never really manages to articulate its own would-be distinctions – MDMA and cannabis good, cocaine bad; acid house good, hardcore house bad; illegal raves for fun and profit good, illegal raves for profit bad – nor to generate much sympathy for its naïve bordering on terminally stupid protagonists.
It also feels like there’s one reel missing from the narrative because Europe-spanning scenes would have been too expensive to film, while there’s a glaring plot hole where you wonder why the sort-of good guy secondary character didn’t just kill the bad guy early on and save everyone a lot of bother; presumably that summer of love vibe affected his business sense.
The shame is that there’s the potential for a good film in here, one which avoided sentimentality and showy displays of vacant technique and that didn't pull its punches as much.