‘The Weekend Away’ proves average in every way

Anushka Patil, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Picture this: a weekend in a colorful European city, your best friend at your side, blue skies, and nights full of endless laughter. How perfect, right? The only catch is that your dear friend vanishes unexpectedly, and your weekend getaway turns into an anxiety-filled mission to piece together a horrifying mystery before the clock runs out.

‘The Weekend Away’ rushes the plot of an exceptional novel. (Provided by Netflix)

Netflix’s latest original, The Weekend Away, directed by Kim Farrant, brings author Sarah Alderson’s novel of the same title to life. Main character Beth (Leighton Meester) travels to Croatia to spend a few, youthful days with her recently-divorced best friend Kate (Christina Wolfe) before going back home to London to her husband Rob (Luke Norris) and daughter Aster. After a night of clubbing, Beth wakes up alone in her and Kate’s rental home. With the help of her newly-befriended taxi driver Zain Zakaria (Ziad Bakaria), Beth embarks on a journey to figure out the truth behind Kate’s disappearance.

The film, rated TV-14 for language, violence, and suggestive dialogue, is truly average at best, in all categories: acting, cinematography, and screenplay.

After reading the book, which I would rate a 7/10, I was excited for the film, but The Weekend Away manifests itself as another case in which the book trumps the movie. The book, in which minor differences are present in the form of names, locations, and backstories, creates truly dynamic characters. I enjoyed the suspense of the plot a lot more with characters I felt a genuine connection to, characters in which their motives for their actions were carefully unraveled throughout the novel. This piece coupled with the writing style of the book made it a page-turner from start to finish.

However, in the case of the film, the organic excitement of the mystery was turned into a goal of squeezing the general plot line of the book into a 90 minute movie. Meester, whose acting in the show Gossip Girl is raw and believable, doesn’t seem to perfectly mesh with Beth, creating a character who isn’t fully explored. The same goes for Kate and Rob, who are given more attention within the book. No one other than Bakaria is able to bring their character to life, and within a movie in which heartbreak is present, emotional connections with audiences is quintessential in designing a memorable film.

Speaking of memorable qualities, this film had the potential of impressing with the visuals of a Croatian setting, but failed quite significantly. My eyes weren’t drawn to my screen, as The Weekend Away‘s muted colors didn’t seem to make use of cinematic color theory. Even with the background music, which was more like background noise, the plot and overall message of trust could have been conveyed in a more compelling manner. The novel formed a more vivid story solely based on my ability to dress up the characters and setting and play around with the moods of each scene, which were often flat in the film.

Another aspect of the film that I didn’t quite enjoy is how all that was covered was solving the mystery. I would have appreciated if the film simultaneously provided more insight into the personal lives of the characters, which would have reinforced, as I mentioned earlier, emotional connections with audiences.

Although broad, the negatives of the film push my rating of it to ‘average,’ as the qualities, character development, and cinematography, of a good film aren’t achieved to their fullest.

However, The Weekend Away isn’t a complete flop. The storyline captures certain aspects of a mystery film well, in terms of surprises, drama, and uncertainty.

Although rushed, the Netflix Original does manage to deliver a well-summarized version of the book, providing all the important edge-of-your-seat moments that are sure to keep viewers interested until the end. The under layer of conflict within Kate and Beth’s relationship is also executed in the film, adding a sense of tension that is sure to satisfy lovers of drama. Other than Kate and Beth, my favorite character Zain may be one of the highlights of the movie version, as his genuineness gave me a sense of safety while watching a film centered around distrust.

Another interesting aspect of the movie is the plot holes. While frustrating to some, more linear-thinking viewers, I feel like they allow for more interpretative thinking that I appreciate within mystery films.

Overall, I recommend the book over the movie and suggest the Netflix Original to those looking for a film to watch leisurely, without the expectation of a masterpiece like Knives Out. Perhaps enjoy this film while crafting a thriller novel of your own!