The Netflix movie of the week has become its own genre at this point. The streaming service releases so much content every week that it is becoming really hard to keep track of everything. Some movies and TV shows will get lost in the mix, and others will find the audiences they were looking for.
For about a year, Netflix has been releasing a movie a week, and while some of them are quite bad, some of them are entertaining enough to justify their running time. The Weekend Away falls into a later category, thanks to a couple of charming actors and also thanks to a little cool mystery that the audience can piece together while they watch.
The Weekend Away is directed by Kim Farrat and stars Leighton Meester, Christina Wolfe, Ziad Bakri, and Luke Norris. The film tells the story of Beth, a young mother, going for a weekend to meet her best friend Kate in Croatia. The pair go out partying, and the next morning, Kate is nowhere to be found. What follows is a series of twists and turns, betrayals and revelations, and a lot of sightseeing.
The Weekend Away is a movie that doesn’t really work in terms of a theatrical release, and it doesn’t seem to have those kinds of expectations on any level. This is good because the movie can then focus on doing what it is supposed to do. The Weekend Away might not win any awards, but it compensates by being entertaining enough to warrant a viewing if you’re looking for something fresh and light to watch.
There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before, but the casting helps to elevate the material and make it a lot more enjoyable. Leighton Meester carries the film on her shoulders, and she does an amazing job. The actress has that charming and sweet quality that makes you want to root for her no matter what, a sweet girl like that surely doesn’t deserve such a tragic weekend. It doesn’t matter because the movie puts her through some rough situations. Meester portrays Beth in a way many female characters don’t get portrayed very often in the media nowadays, by being both strong and vulnerable at the same time.
Alongside Meester, the other standout actor in the movie is Ziad Bakri, as Zain, a charming taxi driver. The actor, just like Meester, has that quality that makes you trust him very easily, which is funny because the movie makes it a plot point in the movie. Perfect casting if the goal was to find someone with that quality. Zain is a refugee from the Syrian war, and he is trying to build a new life in Croatia. Beth and he make for a mismatched couple that, as the movie progresses, might not be so mismatched. There’s a lot of chemistry between the two, and it makes for a good on-screen relationship.
The movie introduces the refugee subject, with Zain being one and Beth having worked with them through her job. However, the subject never goes beyond that, which is a shame as it would make some of their conversation even more interesting, as they would be two people getting to know each other through hardship instead of passion or love.
In terms of plot, the movie feels by the numbers sometimes. But the script is smart enough to take these conventions and play with them in such a way that they might keep you guessing, even when you’re sure you know the answer. It makes for quite an entertaining mystery that most audience members will solve very early, but they will want to watch until the end to see if they were right. The short runtime of 90 minutes is also very welcome.
When it comes to the direction, Farrat doesn’t do anything particularly fascinating, she just tries to portray the story in the best possible way. It would be possible if she could have become a little more ambitious with her visuals, but the movie is competent on a technical level. What she does well is portraying Croatia as a very beautiful place you might want to visit in the future. It is quite nice to see a new European landscape taking the spotlight away from the usual places like Italy or France.
So yeah, The Weekend Away won’t change anyone’s mind about the Netflix movie of the week genre, but from the many that have been released, the film can be proud of being one of the most entertaining ones. You might forget it once it is over, but you had a good time watching it.