In the spirit of sheer perversity, one quite liked Dirty Weekend. It is certainly a lot more savagely barbed and articulate a revenge fantasy than Michael Winners Death Wish was. Author Helen Zahavi appears to be someone who embraces some extreme feminist notions that all men should be castrated, that all heterosexual sex is an act of rape etc etc and at the very least has a chip on her shoulder about the size of a small forest when it comes to men. Every man in the film is regarded as sleazy the cheating and indifferent boyfriend; the cop who makes crude sexual jokes at the dinner table and then withdraws the offer of police protection after Lia Williams refuses to let him have his way with her; while Rufus Sewells neighbour is not merely a peeper, he is also a dirty phone caller and makes nasty threats about raping and mutilating her.
Everything is unsubtly spelt out. The film, for instance, opens on a title card: This is the story of Bella who woke up one morning and decided shed had enough. The video box cover announces it even more catchily: Bella has decided to take out a few men, accompanied by the picture of Lia Williams wielding a handgun. In the end credits, the cast are listed as either The Ladies, Bellas Victims or The Men That Got Away. Michael Winner emphasises everything with characteristically unsubtle regard in the opening scenes, we get meaningful shots of Lias boyfriend kissing other female students and Lia ominously clutching a knife and then plunging it into his birthday cake.
Certainly, screenwriter Helen Zahavi is on the ball when it comes to portraying the economic vulnerability of single women we get the sense of Lia Williamss powerlessness in the face of Rufus Sewells peeper of being unable to afford to move anywhere else or even decent security precautions for her flat. It is even implied that were she able to appear cuter and more obliging for clients, her temp agency would be able to get her more work.
It is in the latter half of the film, once Lia Williams becomes empowered and gets a gun, that the film begins to become darkly nasty and contrarily emerges at its most outrightly enjoyable. Michael Winner has thrown all notions of good taste to the wind and goes for it in ways that take one aback. Helen Zahavis dialogue here is wonderfully sardonically laced. There is a grotesque scene where Lia Williams lets Michael Cules fat, naked professor fuck her, where she chides him for prematurely ejaculating and then he starts to beat her, whereupon she turns the tables, ties him up and puts a plastic bag over his head and watches him expire. There is also a perverse performance from David McCallum as a dentist who forces Lia Williams to perform oral sex on him in an empty carpark building, and an acerbic scene where Lia confronts three men attempting to set alight an old bag lady in an alleyway.
None of the violence is particularly convincingly directed but there is something refreshingly sordid to the film. All the moralistic outrage aside, Dirty Weekend is considerably better a film than most of Michael Winners others Helen Zahavis almost monomaniacal venting of bile against men gives it a dark intensity that Winners Death Wish films lack. Certainly, it is a film that, for all its un-PC liberation fantasy, is much more honest and has more sincere feeling than the so-called feminist empowerment fantasies of big-budget junk like Enough (2002).
Michael Winners other films of genre note are: The Nightcomers (1971), a prequel to Henry James oft-filmed The Turn of the Screw (1898); the classic vigilante film Death Wish (1974); the occult film The Sentinel (1977); Death Wish II (1981); the psycho-thriller Scream for Help (1984); Death Wish 3 (1985); and Parting Shots (1999) where a dying man sets out to eliminate those who made his life miserable.
Full film available online here:-