The Lost Weekend: A Love Story review — Another witness to Boomer myth

Directed by Eve Brandstein, Richard Kaufman, and Stuart Samuels | 97 min | ▲▲▲△△

I’ve got to own up to a bit of a bias against this material: I’ve had it up to here with Boomer rock ‘n’ roll mythologizing.

It’s still thriving in 2023. This very week we got the news that Timothée Chalamet will play Bob Dylan in another biopic of the rock legend — as if we didn’t already have one overblown, overrated take on his persona, I’m Not There, where Bob was portrayed by multiple performers — Cate Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin among them — because his mysterious genius was just too vast for one actor. It was tiresome bullshit then, and that was 16 years ago.  I guess they’ve decided one dude can do the job now?

The story of the music and music-makers of the 1960s and ’70s has been eulogized, dissected, and reanimated so many bloody times it’s hard to get excited by the testimony of another witness to the life of a legend, and that’s exactly what this is.

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story is the story of May Pang, assistant to Yoko Ono and John Lennon and eventual lover of John when he and Yoko split up  in the mid-’70s. That was during the so-called Lost Weekend in John’s life — actually more like 18 months. Pang has told her story in two books and multiple interviews over the years, but here it is yet again. I would’ve thought the exhaustive documentary Get Back on Disney+ was the last word on the Beatles, but I guess there’s still more to say.

On its own merits the film is fine. It’s punchy and moves reasonably well, utilizing a lot of archival footage, photographs, and voice over, never sitting still for long. Pang narrates the tale, and is frequently seen in trashy talk-show footage from the 1980s, interviews with daytime personalities like Alan Thicke, Joan Rivers, Geraldo Rivera, and Jeannie Becker, of all people. We get plenty of material of Lennon talking as well — he must’ve been so tired of talking about his life by the end of it — though not too much about the music. Julian Lennon shows up, which helps make this more personal — as a kid he had been reintroduced to his father during this period.

Pang is a survivor and a decent storyteller, and the film works as a fresh take on that perennial reworking of the American Dream — a Chinese immigrant who had extraordinary experiences in the murky, white male world of rock and roll. She does help piece together a few of the missing pieces of the puzzle, those weird and occasionally wonderful California days spent in the company of partiers like Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon.

But even so, I can’t see this being of interest to anyone beyond the Lennon fans who want to get yet another take on their idol.

When documentaries about musicians fail to focus on the music, there’s always a danger they’ll slip into celebrity trash. That’s not necessarily what happens here, but if a great documentary engages you in subjects you had no interest in, an OK doc might interest those with a baked-in stake but won’t be of much use to anyone else. This is solidly in the latter camp.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.