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Is 'The Weekend Away' A Thrilling Getaway? Or Snoozy Mystery?

The Weekend Away Leighton Meester Beth Ziad Bakri Zain Netflix
Ivan ล ardi / Netflix

In sunny Croatia, a girls’ weekend goes terribly awry in the gripping Netflix thriller, “The Weekend Away.” “Gossip Girl” legend Leighton Meester stars as Beth, one half of the best friend duo. Beth is a new mom whose marriage is not as hot as it used to be, and the rough patch is a source of interest for Beth’s recently divorced best friend, Kate (Christina Wolfe).

As the two women catch up, Beth works to wind down in Croatia, clearly worn out from new mom life, and the recent distancing of her husband (Luke Norris of “Poldark” fame). Angry divorcee, Kate, on the other hand, has different plans as she attempts to ramp things up with a visit to a nightclub. What happens next is a foggy, amnesia-tic blur for Beth.

From here, “The Weekend Away” leans into its mysterious bones, emerging as a bona fide thriller that answers every question it poses. Before heading into the Netflix film, I was worried it would be like some other open-ended movies with mysterious underpinnings. After all, a sort of sub-genre has emerged in the aftermath of the general suspense arena. 

This sub-genre digs into the personal dynamics of a mystery without providing a payoff for the puzzle that initially brought viewers in to check it out. Thankfully, despite “The Weekend Away” giving off vibes of that in the trailer turns out to be a refreshingly straightforward whodunit. As Beth works to find her friend, every true crime regular will recognize the brick wall she runs up against in solving her friend’s disappearance. 

While the police casually respond to Beth’s urgent need for help, she is assisted by the charismatic Zain (Ziad Bakri), a taxi driver with whom Beth forges an entirely understandable bond. Believe it or not, none of this insight gives too much away because “The Weekend Away” is a dense film with many intriguing nuances akin to “Everybody Knows.”

There is a solid mystery with an equally tangible finish line that solves it all, and it is a welcome relief. Bolstering the importance of closure is Leighton Meester’s performance as Beth demands it. Meester’s charisma and salt-of-the-earth turn as the vulnerable Beth brilliantly sheds all of Blair Waldorf’s skin, reminding viewers it was often Meester and not the “Gossip Girl” writers who brought the messy socialite to such complex levels of life.

Leighton Meester proves why she deserves every lead role she gets and why she has earned more of them. Meester’s innate ability to connect with her co-stars proves crucial again in “The Weekend Away” as she convinces us that Beth’s devotion to her sordid Serena Van Der Woodsen-esque friend is admirable instead of foolish. 

In another tricky gesture, Leighton Meester convinces this viewer that a very-married Beth does nothing (“Sex/Life” level) wrong in finding an understandably deep emotional connection with Zain. The chemistry between Meester and Ziad Bakri is terrifically apparent with an underlying sizzle that stirs up obvious feelings for Beth and viewers. All told, “The Weekend Away” packs a lot into its hour-and-a-half runtime as director Kim Farrant keeps the story flowing without bubbling over anything critical. 

There is only one minor issue with the ending, albeit it is nothing unforgivable. “The Weekend Away” is largely about finding out who you are away from every familiar comfort that defines you. Think of the prematurely cancelled Netflix “White Lines” with a moral compass. Beth must rely on her instincts and not those of her husband or best friend to manage what ensues, and the pressure is on. 

The stakes could not be higher as the movie ratchets up the tension scene-by-scene. It may not be the most relaxing “getaway” movie, but between the breathtaking sights, and suspenseful mystery, it gets the adrenaline going in the best way. “The Weekend Away” is more than worthy of the Netflix trip. Here is to the streaming service bulking up on more films like this.

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