Long Weekend star Finn Wittrock unpacks the rom-com's twist ending: 'It was just so satisfying'
The American Horror Story actor discusses the big sci-fi element, which he likens to Groundhog Day.
Warning: Spoilers from Long Weekend and the film's ending are discussed in this article.
Finn Wittrock, known for roles on American Horror Story and Ratched, found the ending of Long Weekend, the romantic-comedy with a twist, to be "so satisfying" when he first read it in the script from writer-director Stephen Basilone. It's part of why he took the job, only he couldn't really talk about the moment until now because doing so gives away the story.
Basilone, coming from the realms of Happy Endings and The Goldbergs, based Long Weekend around an experience he had meeting a woman during a very difficult time in his life. He was suffering from a chronic illness, he was going through a divorce, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. This person then came along to offer him a brief reprieve from his reality. Years later, when he tried contacting her again, he found that her number was no longer in service.
The filmmaker brought a sci-fi twist to that premise for Long Weekend, which premiered in theaters on March 12.
Wittrock stars as Bart, a down-on-his-luck writer who has a passionate three days with a mysterious woman named Vienna (Zoë Chao). Vienna, however, is from the future. The year 2055, to be particular. She works for a special government task force who discovered time travel. She then used this technology to go to the past in order to invest in the right stocks so that, upon returning to her own time, she would have the funds to save her mom from cancer.
In EW's exclusive clip from the film, shown in the video above, Bart and his friend Doug (Damon Wayans) discuss this wild claim.
Bart becomes convinced that Vienna is suffering some kind of mental breakdown, similar to what he went through, and takes her to a hospital to get help. But then his nose starts bleeding and he collapses on the ground. He wakes to find out doctors found a small tumor in his brain. They were able to remove it, but Doug reasons he probably hallucinated Vienna altogether. Bart only later realizes that, even though all evidence of Vienna has seemingly vanished, his bank account now suddenly holds thousands of dollars. Returning to a lockbox he took out with Vienna at the bank, he finds it filled with photos of them together and a note from her that says their love will always be real.
"This is a real picture of mental health," Wittrock tells EW. "Then, once this magical realism thing happens, it's not like the other thing isn't true. He still has mental issues. He still went through all that he went through, and yet, it gives us this kind of Groundhog Day weekend. The world is still a little magical."
"Then, they don't get together at the end," he also notes. "Their life still lives only in that weekend. It's not happily ever after, per se, but he gets to carry around with him this knowledge that there are little miracles in the world. Which is what movies can be. They are explorations of the human psyche, but there are also, hopefully, magical."
"I love rom-coms. But the rom-coms I really respond to are the ones that take the genre and twist it," Basilone writes in an email. "Eternal Sunshine, Stranger Than Fiction, Groundhog Day, About Time — these are all rom-coms at their core, but they take the boy-meets-girl format and add another layer that gives the story so much more depth and intrigue. Those are the stories I love. So that's what I was trying to achieve with Long Weekend. Make a movie in the vein of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise trilogy (I mean there's a name, the lead's name is Vienna), but give it another layer that hopefully makes it feel different than other stories you've seen before."
The ending of Long Weekend is slightly open-ended intentionally. Did Vienna go back in time specifically to save Bart? Basilone didn't want to explain it too much in the film, though Wittrock confirms it's clear that Vienna "did target him." She does need someone, like Bart, to get her lockbox set up for her own affairs, but she also sees someone "in need and jumps on him," the actor says.
"We've all been through such a chaotic and dark period in this last year, and I hope what people take away from this movie is that beauty and laughter and love can come out of all of that," Basilone says. "Because the universe is a cold and uncaring place, but we rarely are. And with a little love, hope, and maybe a butt joke or two — we'll all get through it."
"It's called Long Weekend, because it's about two people who are desperately in need of a break," he adds. "A vacation from all that weighs on them. And they find that reprieve in one another. I think we all need that break right now, and my hope is that this movie — on some small level — will be that for people."
Long Weekend will be available on Digital May 11 and on DVD May 25.
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