Dirty Weekend (1993 film)

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Dirty Weekend
Dirty Weekend Theatrical Release Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Winner
Screenplay byMichael Winner
Helen Zahavi
Story byHelen Zahavi (novel)
Produced by Jim Beach
Robert Earl
Ron Purdie
Michael Winner
Starring Lia Williams
Rufus Sewell
Ian Richardson
David McCallum
Sylvia Syms
Christopher Ryan
Sean Pertwee
Cinematography Alan Jones
Edited byMichael Winner (as Arnold Crust Jr)
Music by David Fanshawe
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date
  • 29 October 1993 (1993-10-29)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£517,750 (UK) [1]

Dirty Weekend is a British film directed by Michael Winner, based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Helen Zahavi. It was banned from video release for two years by the BBFC for its violent and sexual content.


Dirty Weekend is a film set in Brighton, England, where Bella, a secretary, becomes a victim of Tim, a voyeur who harasses her. After the police provide no assistance, Bella consults an Iranian clairvoyant, Nimrod, who encourages her to take matters into her own hands. She kills Tim and goes on a murder spree, ultimately evading capture. Filming took place in London and Brighton, facing some equipment theft during production. Critical reception was largely negative, with reviewers criticizing the acting, direction, and screenplay, and comparing it unfavorably to other female revenge films. The cast includes Lia Williams as Bella, Rufus Sewell as Tim, and Ian Richardson as Nimrod.


Set in the coastal town of Brighton, England, Dirty Weekend follows the story of Bella (Lia Williams), a mild-mannered secretary who works from home in a basement flat. Soon, she finds herself the victim of Tim (Rufus Sewell), a voyeur who watches her through her windows and plagues her with obscene phone calls in which he threatens to assault and rape her. After the police refuse to offer any assistance, Bella visits Nimrod (Ian Richardson), an Iranian clairvoyant who suggests that she take matters into her own hands.

That night, Bella breaks into Tim's flat while he is sleeping and batters him to death with a claw hammer. Empowered, Bella embarks on a dirty weekend in which she slaughters six more men by a variety of methods. Ultimately, she evades capture by the authorities and prepares to carry on her murderous rampage in the large, faceless city of London.


Filming took place in the Notting Hill and Kensington areas of London and also in Brighton. The Internet Movie Database lists other locations. The gun shop scenes were filmed at Park Street Guns near St Albans; the country pub (now demolished) was the Grenville Lodge, East Burnham (Burnham Beeches), Buckinghamshire; and the dentist scenes were shot at a real dental practice in Twickenham, Greater London.

Theft of equipment was a problem during filming. [2] While filming in Brighton, all the catering equipment was stolen and in Notting Hill Gate, a mobile kitchen with generator was stolen.

Critical reception

Halliwell's Film Guide described Dirty Weekend as "a sleazy little tale of a female vigilante, directed and acted in a perfunctory, over-emphatic manner". [3] Sheila Johnston's assessment of Dirty Weekend was also negative: "no window-dressing can hide the fact that an aura of indelible naffness hangs over the movie...the screenplay is hewn out from Helen Zahavi's over-written novel with no concessions to the way people actually speak". [4] Johnston argued Dirty Weekend was inferior to other female revenge films such as Ms. 45 and Lipstick . [4] Johnston also criticised the making up of the white actor Richardson with "brownface" to portray a Middle Easterner. [4] The Observer review claimed Dirty Weekend has "a certain factitious topicality", but went on to state "a work so bad in every way, and mostly risibly so, cannot be the focus of serious controversy". [5] Brian Case, reviewing the film for Time Out , dismissed Dirty Weekend as "pretty rotten", and criticised Winner's direction, stating it resembled "out-takes from local cinema advertising, which distances the audience from the material and indeed from wakefulness itself". [6]


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  1. "UK films and co-productions". Screen International . 14 January 1994. p. 50.
  2. Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts by Michael Winner, p.269.
  3. Leslie Halliwell and John Walker Halliwell's Film Guide. HarperPerennial, 1996 (p.316).
  4. 1 2 3 Johnston, Sheila (29 October 1993). "It was a Dirty Job". The Independent. p. 26.
  5. "Dirty Weekend". The Observer. 31 October 1993. p. 4.
  6. "Dirty Weekend", in Time Out Film Guide 2011, Time Out, London, 2010. ISBN   1846702089 (p. 274).