Kim Farrant’s The Weekend Away is yet another addition to Netflix’s growing list of psychological thrillers. The lead protagonist, played by Leighton Meester, faces a predicament that is a quintessential trope in various thrillers, especially The Girl on the Train.
The film kicks off with the problem of a disappearing individual and the protagonist having no memory of the past events. Based on Sarah Alderson’s eponymous novel and her screenplay, the film premiered on Netflix on March 3rd, 2022. However, instead of Lisbon, the film’s characters go to Croatia for a fateful trip that alters their lives forever.
Meester plays Beth, a new mother struggling with her tumultuous marriage. She is invited by her best friend Kate, played by Christina Wolfe, for a weekend’s getaway in Croatia. Luxuriant and extravagant, the trip seems too good to be true. Kate is seemingly hiding something, as is evident from a few close-up shots where she is willing to say something to Beth.
After a night of drunken debauchery and flirting, Beth wakes up to find Kate mysteriously gone. In a fateful turn of events, she becomes the prime suspect, and everybody doubts her intentions and actions. None but the Syrian driver Zain, played by Ziad Bakri, believes her and becomes her loyal confidante and ally as Beth sets out to unravel the truth. The film immediately delves into the conflict, hardly 15 minutes into the narrative. However, the development is pretty slow, and it is not until halfway through the film that Meester takes matters into her own hands to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Meester makes her character pretty compelling. Beth is genuinely worried about her friend, totally oblivious to the devious plotting behind her back. Her rage, vulnerability, and sincere interest in finding out Kate’s perpetrators make her likeable. Despite being a brilliant performer, Meester, however, takes the backseat and does not have much room for development within Farrant’s constricting script that seems pretty underdeveloped compared to the book.
Famous for having played the iconic character of Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, Meester is nothing like her previous role. She is meek, timid and easily swayed. Her best friend’s betrayal and the revelation of a cheating husband, in the end, makes her shed silent tears. While Waldorf would probably make her infidel husband’s a living nightmare, Meester’s character walks off with her baby. While the film ends seemingly positively, it isn’t easy to assume what happens to Beth and her child. Although she sports a smile and carries her daughter while walking through the park, her future seems pretty bleak.
The film has some remarkable twisted moments, especially when Beth stumbles upon the landlord’s creepy obsession with collecting the recordings of guests inside hotel rooms, hinting at a genuine problem plaguing tourists’ minds. While the plot is pretty predictable, thanks to Wolfe’s guilty demeanour and subtle sad glances at her best friend, Beth’s husband’s confession helps fill in some of the narrative holes that might have been confusing in the beginning.
While the film could have been way more gripping and tightly bound, we can only wonder what a sassier version of Meester would do. Instead of shedding sad tears, would she push her husband down a cliff? Would she take a more Waldorf-like step as a jilted, betrayed wife? One will never know!