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Two British best friends and in-laws Dawn and Jackie work together at a factory. When Dawn is diagnosed with a brain tumor Jackie shares $100,000 she's got from her secret lover with Dawn to fulfil her dream - a visit to Las Vegas. They buy two tickets and fly there.. Written by
Originally made in 1997 and intended to be shown only on ITV in the UK. However it was subsequently decided to release it worldwide as a cinema film. It was first shown on ITV on 14 April 1999, after its cinema release. See more »
As a man, I find it increasingly difficult to understand how the female mind works. Take my wonderful fiancé, for example. After a terrible day at work, the best thing she can think of to cheer herself up is to watch a weepie that she knows will make her cry. Personally, I'd prefer something overly violent or humorous - "Desperado" works very well as it fulfils both criteria. But what good can a sad movie do when you're already depressed? Perhaps the answer lay with this tragic tale from TV screenwriter Kay Mellor, best known for series' such as "Fat Friends" and "Band Of Gold". Featuring typically strong female leads, "Girls Night" has Mellor's fingerprints all over it and whether you enjoy this depends largely on whether you enjoy tragic-comic melodramas.
Julie Walters and Brenda Blethyn play sisters-in-law Jackie and Dawn, two factory workers in the north of England. Jackie is unhappily married to Dave (Philip Jackson) while Dawn struggles to cope with family life with Steve (George Costigan). After scooping up the national jackpot during a night out at bingo, Jackie and Dawn decide to split the money 50-50. For Jackie, it's the escape from Dave she's dreamt of but for Dawn, her winnings prove ill-fated as she is soon diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and given months to live. Making the most of their time together, Jackie whisks Dawn away to Las Vegas for the ultimate "girls night" and a chance encounter with the enigmatic Cody (Kris Kristofferson).
Despite being unashamedly sentimental and definitely one for the ladies, "Girls Night" is still a powerful drama that leaves you reaching for the nearest tissues. Walters and Blethyn are their usual brilliant selves but Kristofferson feels oddly out of place among the assorted TV actors in the background. UK viewers will recognise Sue Cleaver ("Coronation Street"), Meera Syal ("Goodness Gracious Me") and James Gaddas ("Bad Girls") among others and none of them really convince to the same degree that the two leads do. The writing, while based in reality, feels contrived and forced - the scene where Dawn talks about angels crossed the line for me. In fact, the whole thing feels like a dream - the innate weakness of every male character bar Cody, the blatant symbolism and the oh-so-predictable ending all contrive to lessen the power of what is essentially a good story and, dare I say it, a good film.
The problem for me is that I'm clearly not the target audience and the only way I can relate to the film is via my blubbing Better Half, who can relate to the subject matter of facing death and losing your loved ones all too easily due to her own health problems. While there isn't anything wrong with "Girls Night", it isn't the sort of film that you can watch too often. It feels hampered by its restricted budget (as most TV movies are) and despite its cinema release, that is exactly what this is - a TV movie, something lightweight, easy to digest and untroubled by constant commercial interruptions. Given proper backing and with a stronger script and cast, this may have been an outright classic. Instead, "Girls Night" remains a solid (if unremarkable) tear-jerker. But only if you're a woman...
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