During the opening few moments there’s a dark, ominous tone at play over the titles. It’s as if the film is already foreshadowing something worrying, but at this early stage, there’s no clue as to what it could be. Within seconds, the superimposed title Friday appears and the atmosphere suddenly changes. It’s the Friday before Labor Day and the Greens of San Francisco are gathering at the family cabin by the lake.
The title of the new comedy/drama Last Weekend serves two purposes. It refers to the last weekend of summer – the film takes place over the four day Labor Day weekend – plus it also means it’s the last weekend the wealthy Green family will be gathering at its Lake Tahoe cabin, though only mom and dad know this at the outset.
Patricia Clarkson plays Celia, the matriarch, the one who arranges everything. As a family member states, “Most people have a single train of thought. Mom has fifteen thousand post-it notes floating around up there.” Celia is the kind who busies herself in every aspect of the weekend arrangements then complains she can’t do everything, ignoring the fact that no one asked her to. For some reason, this particular holiday weekend is of great importance to her.
Dad (Chris Mulkey), who made his fortune on fitness equipment, tends to stand back while Celia does most of the arranging. It’s not that he’s lazy – presumably the opposite, considering the wealth he’s accumulated – but when it comes to family gatherings, he acknowledges that this is Celia’s show; but that doesn’t stop him from throwing in an opinion now again, whether it’s off-handed racist remarks that clear the room or the observation that his sons have gathered at the retreat on a Friday workday and not a Saturday. “I didn’t take a Friday off until I was fifty,” he declares.
Everyone brings their baggage, literally and figuratively, whether it be the sons and their other halves or the friends who drop by, or the annoying neighbor (Judith Light) who’s just tickled pink that a famous TV star (Jayma Mays) is also staying as a weekend guest at the Green family cabin.
As the days of the Labor Day weekend pass, baggage is opened, secrets are revealed and drama occasionally strikes. When gay boyfriend Luke (Devon Graye) has a sudden allergy attack at the dinner table, Celia is more concerned that the expensive medicine that will save his life is not going to be available for the remainder of the weekend. “What if someone has a bee sting?” she asks. And when family maintenance man, Hector (Julio Oscar Mechoso) accidentally electrocutes himself and is rushed to hospital alongside his domestic help wife, Maria (Julie Carmen) Celia reflects on their connection to the household. “I didn’t say they’re not family,” she says, defending a criticism. “I said they’re not like family. There’s a difference.”
The real issue with Last Weekend is that it’s not that interesting. Everyone has their problems whether they’re emotional or financial, and everyone mouths their often inappropriate opinion causing conflict, tension and the occasional moment of humor, but they’re the kind of problems only the wealthy fuss over. They’re wealthy white people problems. Most of us will either never have or be a part of the issues that plaque the Greens – life is just too busy – plus they’re not really that nice.
It’s not that they’re bad people – when dad throws out his racist remarks, he’s completely oblivious to having said anything wrong – it’s just that their world, their issues and their opinions of the rest of us are of no particular relevance.
The dark, ominous tone that opened the film, foreshadowing some future problem, is later revealed as no problem at all, at least, not on the average person’s radar. Mom can’t stand the idea of the passing of time. She wants life to be as it was when her boys were ten, canoeing carefree on the lake by the cabin. She can’t handle the change. Considering that just about every parent in the world feels the same kind of anxiety in their family lives but has neither the time nor the money allowing them to indulge in such self-inflicted dramas, Last Weekend leaves you with that empty feeling that no one has brought anything of interest to the dinner table other than the thought that maybe next Labor Day weekend you’d rather spend it anywhere else other than with the Greens at the family cabin on Lake Tahoe.
MPAA Rating: Unrated Length: 94 Minutes Overall Rating: 5 (out of 10)