By: Erik Davis
Nights and Weekends marks writer-director Joe Swanberg's fourth consecutive film at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and it's quite possibly his strongest work yet. Here, Swanberg co-directs and stars alongside girl-next-door-with-an-edge Greta Gerwig – and the two play a couple struggling through the highs and lows of a long distance relationship. What we see is what we don't see, if that makes any sense, as Swanberg and Gerwig consciously chose not to hand this one to the audience on a silver platter. Case in point: There's really no narrative at all. One would think a film with no narrative would be the equivalent of recording you and your significant other watching TV on a Friday night – cuddled up, chitter chatter with a pause for a snack here and there.
On the surface, Nights and Weekends is just that – a regular night (or nights) with regular people who talk just like us or them or your friend with the huge crush on that guy we all kinda know. But look a little deeper and Nights and Weekends is so much more than "just another 'Mumblecore' flick about confusing relationships and missed opportunities." Swanberg and Gerwig do a tremendous job tapping into everything we love about our relationships, as well as everything we hate – and they do this with moments, glances, kisses and tears. No score. No set pieces. No set up and payoff. In an interview the morning after the film's world premiere, Swanberg told me that's exactly how he remembers his own life: as random scenes, conversations or smiles – a mixed fruit basket of love, lust, fear and disappointment.