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The Lost Weekend: A Love Story (Film Review)

3 min read
a polaroid of John and May

The phrase ‘' originates from the same titled film by Billy Wilder from 1945, which tells the story of an alcoholic who has lost control. Today most people would reference 's equally chaotic indulgence with drugs and alcohol, when hearing the Lost Weekend. May Pang, John's girlfriend during this 18-month period, had a unique first-hand viewpoint of this hazy part of Lennon's life. For most fans who will be drawn to this it will be for the chance to gain some insight into that turbulent, little-known time of the former Beatles life.

The interesting aspect of The Lost Weekend: A Love Story is May Pangs perspective on . She is shown as a controlling influence on her husband's life, with Lennon often having to okay choices he makes with her first. Even the relationship between Pang and Lennon has signs of manipulation. Ono, seeing that John was seeing other women and increasingly distancing himself from her, decided to tell Pang to begin a relationship with him. Initially she refused but as she was young and Ono was persistent, she relented. This backfired for Ono, as the documentary reveals the intense romance that ensued.

Pang plays the innocent victim throughout, showcasing Ono as somebody who controls every aspect of Lennon's life, even limiting the time spent with his first son Julian Lennon. How much of this is true is hard to say but quotes from people who were around him at the time expressed how open and sociable he was when with Pang. In the film, it is amazing to see how Pang managed to work her way to the top of the publishing industry, which is shown through a series of lucky breaks, culminating in becoming a personal assistant to Lennon and Ono after the dissolution of .

A polaroid of May sitting on John's lap
Icon Film Distribution

The documentary is predominantly shot using archived interview footage that is widely available already online. The only new material Pang has seemingly been able to obtain is from Lennon's son, Julian Lennon, who is interviewed for the film. It is frustrating that no one else from that time has been able to be included within the work and is perhaps telling of her relationship with those involved. What we're left with as a viewer is a rather irritating Pang narrating throughout, in an overly acted way, which fails to strike the right tone and comes across as disingenuous. The publicity for the film also lists the cast to include Elton John and Alice Cooper amongst others but this is misleading. They are in the film, though through archived footage not original material.

Disappointingly there isn't much new material that hasn't already been released previously. Although there are some interesting revelations, like Phil Spector manically shooting his gun while Lennon was standing in the same room and hints at a darker side to him (physical abuse towards Pang), however they are few and far between. The problem with the film is how lightweight the subject matter is; there just isn't much of an engaging story to carry the audience along with it. Yes, Pang may have been unfairly treated at the hands of Yoko Ono but there isn't enough here to carry a film for 90 minutes.

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story will mainly appeal to hardcore Beatles fans, but it is very likely that they are already well versed in the history of this moment in time. With sparse new material and few original interviews, there is little to see in this mediocre tale of a brief time of John Lennon's life.

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story premieres on the Icon Film Channel from November 20.