Eye For Film >> Movies >> Girls' Night (1998) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Just when you thought you were getting The Full Maggie, things turn serious and stay that way. It is no one's fault that death will never be the best gag in town. Nick Hurran is not attempting Shirley Valentine with six weeks to live. He belongs to the Brassed Off school of northern grit, where there's nowt like life.
Jackie (Julie Walters) and Dawn (Brenda Blethyn) are sisters-in-law and friends since junior school. They work side by side at the Japanese computer components factory. Jackie is rough-tongued and opinionated, married to a lump of wood (George Costigan) and having top-of-the-desk sex with the manager of the bingo hall. Dawn is so used to fetching and carrying for her family, she doesn't notice anymore. She has no expectations. Her dreams fly away. Jackie's the hard one, selfish and demanding, constantly taking the piss out of the foreman.
Dawn thinks so little of herself, she concentrates on others, although on Friday nights, when the whole team from work go to bingo, she lets her hair down, giggles like a girl and enjoys every inch of freedom from kitchen sink duties and her scrappy teenage kids. This could have been a movie about Dawn winning 100,000 quid on the national bingo jackpot and sharing it with Jackie and having a blast in Las Vegas and then coming home, because money can't buy, you know, happiness and, anyway, they miss their mates - two northern ladies on the biggest night out in the world! It isn't quite like that, although it is as well, because Dawn is diagnosed with terminal cancer and dying's a party pooper when it comes to having a good time.
The performances are the thing. Blethyn, who was unforgettable in Secrets And Lies, is as remarkable here. She captures Dawn's frightened innocence, instinctual wisdom and delight in other people's pleasure (and surprise at her own). Walters attacks Jackie head on. Sparks fly. In her mini skirt and high heels, she makes a formidable opponent in the sex wars, while exposing a softer, more sensitive side alone. For all her brass-necked confidence, she envies Dawn's generous nature. As a portrait of friendship, at that critical moment when defences are down and truth hurts too much, Girls Night comes through as the genuine article.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001