I Am Weekender (2023) – Review

I Am Weekender (2023) - Review

Director: Chloé Raunet
Cast: Jeff Barrett, Jeremy Deller, Tim Dorney
Certificate: 15

By Sarah Morgan

Where were you in 1992?

I was exactly the right age to have been going to raves, those all-night dance parties in remote areas so maligned by certain quarters of the media. But the whole scene completely passed me by – I was either quietly reading or drawing at home, or enjoying uni life instead.

So the events depicted in I Am Weekender, a short film created by director WIZ to accompany the 13-minute song of the same name by the short-lived but influential indie/pop band Flowered Up, are completely alien to me. Nevertheless, I found what is basically an extended music video entrancing.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I was unaware of it is that it never appeared on Top of the Pops. Not only was it far too long for the BBC’s music show to incorporate, its depiction of drug-taking and the escape from the mundanities it provided for the characters featured meant it was almost immediately banned from mainstream British TV.

Of course, as is often the case with forbidden fruit, the idea of it has become all the more tantalising in the years since, so much so that a recent showing at BFI Southbank in London sold out super-fast. Several of those who were lucky enough to see it on its original release now suggest it had a huge influence on their own creative careers, including Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, who claims there would have been no Trainspotting without Weekender.

I Am Weekender (2023) - Review

“Living for the weekend”

Sadly, Boyle isn’t one of the talking heads featured in Chloe Raunet’s new documentary about the film’s creation, which also appears on the blu-ray release. However, there are several fascinating insights from the likes of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, artist Jeremy Deller, film-maker Lynne Ramsay, DJ Annie Nightingale and music luminaries including Roisin Murphy, Bobby Gillespie, Mark Moore and Shaun Ryder.

All have insightful things to say about I Am Weekender, but perhaps the most fascinating comments come from its stars, Lee Whitlock (who sadly passed away earlier this year, aged just 54) and Anna Haigh. Both have much to contribute about the creative process and their approach to playing a duo struggling with the grind of Monday to Friday before finding a meaning and purpose to their lives during drug-fuelled all-nighters. They are, it seems, living for the weekend.

By 1992, Whitlock was a former child star well used to life on set (he’d previously appeared in such shows as Grange Hill and Shine on Harvey Moon), but Haigh was a relative newcomer, and describes what it was like to be one of the few females involved.

Director WIZ offers his views via an audio commentary accompanying I Am Weekender, and there are several short but revealing special features that make the release a must for those who remember the ‘Baggy’ scene and others who fancy themselves as students of British popular music.

Special features:
● Weekender (1992, 19 mins): the film itself, remastered from the original camera negative and presented in a new 2K restoration
● New audio commentary by director WIZ, recorded and produced by Adam Dunlop
● Rushes Revisited (Adam Dunlop, 2023, 9 mins): four sketches made from unseen rushes featuring previously unheard isolated tracks from the original recordings
● Take It (1991, 4 mins): Flowered Up promotional video directed by WIZ
● Phobia (1990, 4 mins): Flowered Up promotional video directed by Paul Cannell
● It’s On (1990, 4 mins): Flowered Up promotional video directed by Pinko
● Raise (1990, 4 mins): Bocca Juniors promotional video directed by WIZ and featuring Anna Haigh
● Nish (1990, 4 mins): a short film about early acid house culture by WIZ
● Turn It Up! (2023, 27 mins): Chloé Raunet discusses the making of her documentary
● Strictly limited to 2,000 copies featuring a slipcase, postcard and a 36-page illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays by Miranda Sawyer, Adelle Stripe, Des Penney and WIZ
I Am Weekender is released on Blu-ray by the BFI, £19.99

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