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I saw this movie years ago, when it first came out in the theater. My boyfriend at the time thought it would be a sexually charged thriller as the title suggests, a "Basic Instinct" of sorts. Boy was he in for a surprise! This woman has been hit on, molested and generally pushed around be every creepy guy she comes in contact with, including her dentist. Finally, she has enough of all these idiot men she comes in contact with and starts brutally killing them off. I did enjoy watching this, but part of the reason may have been watching my boyfriend squirm throughout the entire film. I think this film will definitely send a message out loud and clear--Guys, behave yourselves, or else!
Dirty weekend is a very well made film- as you would expect from Michael Winner. To sum it up, it is basically a feminist version of Death Wish about a woman who gets pushed around, experiences her own powerlessness and one day decides she's had enough. Needless to say that she then spends a weekend with a gun meeting a lot of creeps. Some of ther performances are great. David McCallum as psyohopathic dentist alone is worth watching the film. As always Winner plays effectively with audience by getting us to actually want her to pull the trigger. Of course, it is all black/and white in terms of morals and the likelihood of meeting such an assortment of scumbags in one weekend is not really that big. But all in all the film is well made. What impressed me most was the very effective use of music in the film. I found it remarkable that the French film "Baise Moi" allegedly a feminist masterpiece is a shameless rip off of Dirty Weekend, lifting complete scenbes from Winner's film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dirty Weekend starts starts in London as Bella (Lia Williams) discovers
that her boyfriend is cheating on her, Bella decides to move down to
Brighton by the seaside to be near her best friend Marion (Miriam
Kelly). Bella rents a flat & gets a job as a secretary but becomes
terrified of the man (Rufus Sewell) watching her from across the road,
he calls her & threatens her while describing his sexual fantasies. The
police are unable & unwilling to help & after an encounter with an
Iranian therapist Bella decides to take matters into her own hands.
Bella breaks into the man's flat & brutally murders him with a hammer,
however Bella liked the feeling & carries on killing any man that she
sense are a threat or try to take advantage of her...
This English production was co-written, co-produced & directed by Michael Winner who made the classic vigilante film Death Wish (1974) with Charles Bronson a couple of decades earlier, Dirty Weekend is basically Death Wish but with a 90's feminist twist where it's a woman dishing out the revenge in a world (well, Brighton) full of sleazy scumbag men. Adapted from the novel by Helen Zahavi the central character Bella was apparently a prostitute in the novel but changed to a mild mannered career women for the film, Zahavi must have been dumped by a man or ripped-off or something since every single male character in Dirty Weekend is a sleaze bag, a liar, a cheater, a sexual rapist, an abuser, a mutilating killer or just an immoral chauvinist out for what they can get. I can't say Dirty Weekend is a brilliant film or a deep film or a meaningful film or even a convincing film but it is an entertaining one. Some of the sharp dialogue drifts between being quite menacing & unintentionally hilarious, Rufus Sewell's dirty phone caller gets some great lines while he masturbates off screen which are pure low budget porn gold. Bella doesn't kick in to full vigilante mode until about the forty fifth minute but from that moments she meets all sorts of undesirable character's including a fat professor, a slimy dentist, a serial killer & a gang of thugs who hate people from Liverpool. The reasons & motivations given for Bella snapping are rather simplistic & not that deep but the feeling that she has come to the end of the line with no prospect of police help is quite well made, the suggestion that to become a vigilante is the only option left open to Bella is quiet effectively put across. Running at just under 100 minutes long Dirty Weekend moves along at a nice pace, while not particularly exciting or captivating there are enough bizarre & quirky moments to keep one entertained from Bella's rambling self justifying narration to her sexy outfits to act as bait to lure the scum of Brighton towards her to some of the seduction techniques used by both Bella the hunter & her prey. By the way, it's not as easy as Dirty Weekened makes out to buy a gun here in the UK. The open ended climax left things open for a sequel which I doubt we will ever see, having said that Bella took little precaution while murdering her way across Brighton & should have been caught by the police.
Dirty Weekend caused a lot of controversy when it was originally released, the British media went to town on this & generally bashed it & called it pornographic. Actress Lia Williams never undresses & apart from a couple of obviously simulated sex acts one would struggle to call it pornographic, Dirty Weekend was obviously described as such by people who had never seen it. Originally released theatrically uncut here in the UK the following video release was cut but about a minute & twenty seconds, only four scenes were shortened & none completely cut whatever some may say. I just saw the full uncut version (the complete hammer murder, the complete plastic bag death & forced fellatio in a car) & none of the extra footage is that noticeable. The hammer murder is as gory as it gets, Bella stabs a man to death but otherwise there's not that much violence to be seen. I guess it was the mixing of sexual & violent themes often within the same scenes that caused the problems although I am convinced it would be passed uncut if submitted to the BBFC today. While the classic vigilante flick Death Wish was set in New York, a dark place full of corruption & crime Dirty Weekend is takes place in the quaint seaside town of Brighton! Hardly renowned as a hotbed of crime & filth.
Filmed on location in Brighton this probably had a quite a low budget but there's a pretty good cast here including Rufus Sewell, David McCallum, Sean Pertwee, Christopher Ryan & Ian Richardson. Lia Williams sounds like she is dubbed a lot of the time but puts in a good performance.
Dirty Weekend is a Death Wish rip-off with a feminist role reversal twist, while a strangely enjoyably perverse revenge thriller that has no subtlety at all maybe it's not a film for everyone. I liked it in a bizarre honest sort of way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This Michael Winner directed movie, adapted from a novel by Helen
Zahavi, is not your typical Death Wish style vigilante movie. Despite
the scenic surrounding of Brighton, it's not quite your typical
domestic British drama/comedy either but falls somewhere between those
genres. For me it's like a hilarious antidote to the usual type of
British film we get nowadays. It's almost like the main character in a
British film like Happy Go Lucky (a very good Mike Leigh movie) or a
similar film like Amelie was watching too many action movies and
started carrying a gun around to solve her problems for the second half
of the movie.
Unlike the typical vigilante plot, where the character is avenging an attack or rape on themselves or a loved one, this film merely has a succession of thoughts and events lead the main character Bella (played by Lia Williams) to simply wake up one morning and decide that she's had enough of being a mousy victim. No deaths of loved ones and after her first victim, no particular group of villains to seek out one by one. The start of the movie could almost be a domestic drama or comedy and could easily be about how a young woman finds love or makes peace with herself by moving to Brighton and making a new start, after another failed relationship with a self loving man. Soon though, it starts to take a horror or thriller twist when Bella discovers a peeping tom watching her intently from the building facing her back room. The situation begins to escalate, with threatening and sleazy phone calls and the pervert (played by Rufus Sewell) even sitting beside Bella on a park bench, threatening to break her hand in broad daylight. Bella's troubles with the peeping tom make up about the first half of the film and include her visiting a Iranian clairvoyant called Nimrod (played by Ian Richardson!) and becoming more confident to the point where she works out a very Rorschach style solution to her problem.
Then the film starts to become more like a random series of encounters with different and eccentric characters. The scene where Bella picks up a very overweight businessman in a hotel bar and goes back to his room, certainly isn't something that we'd have seen in the average vigilante movie (neither is the scene where Bella parades in her underwear pretending to fire her gun and get shot - like kids playing cowboy and Indians - although that part did remind me of a scene in The Harder They Come). This is also where the movie begins to get even more over the top and it's black comedy comes to the fore. Bella's encounters include David McCallum as a very sleazy and disturbed dentist (Little Shop Of Horrors homage?) and a group of yuppie thugs and would be rapists (in a scene that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange) whose number include Christopher Ryan (Mike from The Young Ones) and Sean (son of Jon) Pertwee, as well as a serial killer (previously mentioned in the film in passing).
It's a curious movie in some ways, stuck between genres and not quite what you'd expect from either. It reminded me a little of the Hammer House Of Horror TV series in tone or maybe some of the old Amicus movies. If you're expecting the typical vigilante movie then you may be disappointed that there's not enough conventional action or a group of baddies to be tracked down and eliminated (and the vigilante part of the movie only begins to come in about half way through the movie). I think it works best as a hilarious counterpoint or send up of the typical Mike Leigh, Bridget Jones or Four Weddings And A Funeral type of British movie. I had seen trailers for this film when it first came out but only recently decided to track it down. I hadn't realized it had been banned for two years in the UK. The DVD region 2 DVD release is cut (with the hammer murder being reduced to just one or two blows for instance). I loved this movie and thought it was a riot (and in some ways the fact that it wasn't quite the usual Death Wish clone was a pleasant and interesting surprise). I suspect some will just see it as a train wreck movie and will either hate it or find it "so bad it's good" for those reasons. Now I want a sequel where Bella takes her killing spree to Nazi occupied Paris, hee hee!
I first saw this film at the cinema and found it quite funny in a sick sort of way. What I liked about it was the British feel to it. The story is a Death Wish type clone (Death Wish also directed by Mr Winner)it has some memorable characters in and also some memorable places from Brighton. If your after a bit of fun and don't mind some sick scenes you may like this. Also this film was banned from video release for a few years back in the mid 90's. There are some scenes cut out from the cinema release, but that does not affect the film in any way. Oh I also liked the soundtrack which suited the film very well. Even by today's standard this film has a dark and moody feel to it and may even find it's very own cult status one day.
It's difficult to know if Dirty Weekend finds Michael Winner taking the
rise out the urine, or if he genuinely feels he had something to say?
And what of Helen Zahavi, author of the novel and in charge of the
adaptation to screen here? What's her story - motivations et al? It's
quite possibly that Helen and Michael at their respective humane cores
were a match made in cinematic heaven, but how come Dirty Weekend just
feels dirty, lazy dirty at that, a sort of shock for shocks sake as
Zahavi gets to curry favour with the feminist movement and Winner gets
to be seedy, with murder death kill and the grotesque thrown in for
Plot, for what it's worth, has dowdy Bella (Lia Williams) suddenly turn into a sexual vamp over night with a blood lust for offing all men who dare to leer and pester. In Brighton, the place of rock, candy floss and degenerate male members of the human race.
It would have been easy to root for Bella had she at the very least had acquaintances or drinks with some normal men, but it's hard to take seriously a film where every single bloke she meets is either troubled mentally, a sexually deviant, has a penchant for serial killing and etc etc. Even her best friend's husband is a milquetoast who probably should have been on Bella's hit list as well!
Winner achieved everything he hoped for with Dirty Weekend, the critics frothed at the mouth, the British censors sharpened their scissors, and crucially the film became a holy grail of uncut home formats for the intrigued and degenerates. It undeniably was shocking back on release, I mean when the broad sheet newspapers of Blighty are dissecting it frame by frame you know it's a fire-cracker piece of cinema.
Rufus Sewell can be forgiven as this is right at the start of his career (he is edgy, nutty and Anthony Perkins like), same for British legend Sean Pertwee, but what is David McCallum's excuse, Ian Richardson also? That Lia Williams is bold and cheeky with her performance saves the film from stinker hell, it's great to note that she carved out a strong career in British TV and still works today.
Hard to recommend and guaranteed to make you angry, but fair play to Winner, boy did he know how to punch buttons! 5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I recently read up that in the 90s,one of the main people that was
behind the making of the popular vigalanti- revenge genre, (Michael
Winner) had made a film where,a woman was the lead viglanti,I started
to anticipate,that I was about to see an extremely
gripping,hard-hitting, brutal revenge film.As the film started to reach
the end,I realised that the edginess that should have been the beating
heart of the film,was unpredictable very muted.
The plot: After having gotten some very threatening phone calls,a woman who lives alone in a small flat (Bella) decides to get some help from her family and friends,on the best way to keep herself safe.To Bellas surprise,all of them tell her that instead of trying to get the creep to back off,she should instead be more "welcoming" to him,and be much more thankful that he is showing an interest in stalking and killing her!.With hearing this,Bella decides that if no one else is going to stand up for her,then she has to do it herself.Although when she starts going out for revenge,she suddenly starts to develop a huge appetite for murder...
View on the film: For the screenplay,writers Michael Winner and Helen Zahavi (who also wrote the book that the film is based on) disappointingly stay away from making the film into tough, rough"n" ready twisted "Girl Power" movie.Instead they change the films narrative into being a black comedy,which turns almost all of the supporting characters into very thin card-board cutouts,although the dialogue is not helped out by most of the cast not delivering the lines with a real relish,that would have made the comedic feel of the film a lot stronger.Whilst the BBFC have sadly cut out some of the "impact" shoots in the murder scenes,director Michael Winner is still able to give the movie a fun playfulness,with Bella being able to go to her "local gun shop" and buy a gun,as if she is just going out to buy her bread and milk from the local shop.For the most memorable killing (which involves a plastic bag)Winner is able to show a brief sign of the ruthlessness,that could have made this film into something very special.
Final view on the film: An enjoyable black comedy,that sadly lacks the anger,which it desperately needed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The box proudly proclaimed this to be Michael Winner's best film.
It isn't. In fact, it's the worst I've seen of his yet, an appallingly bad, unfunny, excruciatingly scripted vigilante thriller based on a once-controversial novel. You can immediately sense Winner's interest: after all, this is little more than a version of DEATH WISH with a female vigilante instead of a bloke. But somewhere along the line, Winner's talent for direction faded and he was left making misogynistic movies that usually sank without trace.
There are two things I like about this film: the Brighton setting, which is different, and the cast. Somehow, in his later directing days, Winner was able to convince lots of once-weres to star in his low budget movies, and this is no exception. David McCallum turns up here, along with a blacked-up Ian Richardson, Christopher Ryan, Sylvia Sims, and best of all for me, Rufus Sewell in one of his earliest turns as a creepy pervert who enjoys making prank calls to the heroine. Lia Williams, as the businesswoman turned vigilante, is passable in the role if no great shakes.
The worst thing about this film is the script. It revels in crudity and offensiveness, without ever offering up anything new. The thrust of the storyline closes with the sub-plot involving Rufus Sewell's stalker, and from then on it gets more and more inane, more and more unbelievable. The scene in the car with David McCallum has to be the utter nadir of the film and I still feel ashamed to think of him taking the role. No wonder we don't see him on the screen much anymore. Realism goes out of the window and the point is lost entirely, along with the viewer.
All men are scum. Sweaty, sleazy, dastardly scum. At least they are
according to director Michael Winner (who also wrote the film with
Helen Zahavi, the writer of the original novel) for the purpose of this
Lia Williams plays Bella, a woman starting a new life for herself after finding that she's been traded in for a younger model by her callous boyfriend. Already on edge, Bella breaks down when bombarded by dirty and threatening phone calls from her new neighbour (Rufus Sewell in an early role). Instead of needing medication and therapy, however, it turns out that Bella just needs some fresh air. And a number of sleazy men to exact her revenge upon.
It would seem that Michael Winner saw some kind of strange redemption in this movie, some way to atone for all the accusations levelled at him over the years. That's the only thing that makes sense, though I have not read the source novel, considering just how badly tarred and feathered (at least) the whole male side of the human race is.
Lia Williams gives a good performance in the lead role, taking her character through quite a range of emotions and responses to the world impinging on her own. Sewell is impressively creepy and cold, spouting out vitriol that would make any shy trenchcoat wearer blush. The other "notable" actors include David McCallum as an accommodating dentist, Michael Cule as someone attending a conference who can't quite believe his luck and even brief screen time for "Mike from The Young Ones" aka Christopher Ryan and Sean Pertwee.
Everything, on a technical level, is actually quite well done. The direction is alright, if unspectacular. Despite the lack of appeal in the storyline things move along well enough and there's a nice dose of macabre running through things that reminded me of the later, flailing, outings from Amicus (if you don't know of Amicus then acquaint yourselves with them immediately, genre fans).
The acting is okay, nobody stands out as being awful though it's a bit of a tightrope with the material being dealt with, and there's a surprisingly energetic soundtrack that throws in some hits from the time.
But it's just not a very good film. There's nothing much to it and no real attempt to justify the heroine's actions even if Winner and Zahavi think they've given us something interesting, witty and twisted with their slant on a one-sided "battle of the sexes". Watchable, fitfully amusing in places and eminently forgettable.
There is a bad and good side to this film. Bad because of the detail
i.e the lingering expressionless looks of Bella gets a bit over done
and you're not sure what these mean in relation to the film sometimes.
All the 'nasty' male characters she encounters are too obviously the
entire(minority) arseholes of the male population...which in turn makes
what happens the good side of the film.
Good because of the age old formula of the victim getting revenge on the bad guys is female . Even though it's all a little bit silly & OTT it's worth a watch if even just for the nasty bits. Is Bella tipped over the edge or just coolly enjoying her sadistic pursuits now? You decide...
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