'Dirty Weekend': Tribeca Review

Less wild than one might guess, but diverting enough for a one-night stand

Matthew Broderick has to go to Albuquerque to find out if he's gay.

How drunk would you have to be not to remember if you had or had not experimented with gay sex for the first time on a business trip? Matthew Broderick conveys the self-delusion his character can't own up to in Dirty Weekend, a film in which a plain-vanilla businessman gets a second chance to walk on the wild side. Moviegoers may expect something sexier than what they get here, but Neil LaBute's focus on just-talk between Broderick and co-star Alice Eve, funny but never uproarious, provides its own modest rewards.

The two play Les and Natalie, business colleagues whose plane to Dallas gets waylaid by weather in Albuquerque. From the moment they disembark, Les is unreasonably crabby. Isn't this act of God just some failure of customer service that Natalie can work around? It's almost like Albuquerque terrifies him.

But once it's clear the two aren't boarding a new plane right away, Les decides to head downtown. Why would he risk missing a last-minute change in air-traffic patterns? He wants to buy some "Indian knickknacks" for his kids. Who are both in high school. Puzzled but disinclined to split up, Natalie insists on joining him.

In response to her needling him about the real point of this field trip, Les responds with what for Broderick might as well be arias of sexual repression and self-doubt. We learn that he had a business trip here a few months ago, drank far too much at dinner, and came home with vague, possibly contradictory memories of a beautiful woman who "might have been a 'he,' maybe."

Natalie only gets this out of him by divulging secrets of her own, and Eve has a more subtle job to do here, deliberately offering a glimpse behind Natalie's sexily supercompetent office persona, then making further revelations seem involuntary. She remains the more controlled of the two, though, as the coworkers go in search of the place where Les did whatever he did that has been haunting him. Sure, it's the middle of the day, but if the gods of drama are smiling, maybe he'll find some clues ... or have the answer walk right in wearing a come-hither smile.

Dirty Weekend would likely feel meatier on the stage, where LaBute's jokes would land harder and his themes might be more resonant. Then again, casting like this would mean exorbitant ticket prices on Broadway, and these actors are ideal for the parts. Maybe a dalliance on the big screen, however ephemeral, isn't so bad.

Production company: Horsethief Pictures

Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alice Eve, Gia Crovatin, Phil Burke

Director-Screenwriter: Neil LaBute

Producers: Duncan Montgomery, Joey Stewart, Tiller Russell

Executive producers:

Director of photography: Rogier Stoffers

Production designer: Mark Duran

Editor: Joel Plotch

Music: Joel Goodman

Casting director: Angelique Midthunder

Sales: Jessica Lacy

No rating, 93 minutes

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