J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dirty Weekend: Love in Normandy

Normandy is known for its oysters, so it ought to be a fine place for a lovers’ getaway. Unfortunately, a British history teacher and his pupil are hoping for very different things from their secret assignation. However, their plans will be interrupted by someone else’s caper gone wrong in Christopher Granier-Deferre’s Dirty Weekend (trailer here), which launches on VOD today.

Thirty-four year-old Mike Mallory has crossed over to France before his seventeen year-old student Trish Stallworth, who is rather perturbed by the inconvenient change of plans. Mallory is acting a bit odd, but at least he will have time to pick up a few items, like a shovel. It seems Mallory probably will not be leaving his wife after all, but the oblivious Stallworth gets a last minute reprieve when they discover an apparently deceased armed robber and his satchel full of Louis d’Or coins in their rental cottage.

Of course, the young roguish Vincent was only wounded and extremely sleepy, but he came to in time to see what Mallory had in mind for Stallworth. As she and Mallory try to figure out what to do with their interloper, two corrupt cops wait to finish off the survivors.

Previously known as Le Weekend, Dirty’s new title should avoid confusion with Roger Michell’s Le Week-End, which does not have a body count of its own, but would probably be even less fun to live through. Sure, everyone should know better several times over, but it is good fun to watch them manipulate and betray each other.

Granier-Deferre maintains a breezy comic vibe (albeit of a decidedly dark variety) that allows viewers to enjoy the skulduggery without any anxiety, because it is impossible to form any sort of emotional attachments to any of the characters (although there is something to be said for the manic naiveté Kirsty Oswald brings to bear as Stallworth). While the lack of a genuine rooting interest can be a perilous strategy, Granier-Deferre and screenwriter Geoffrey Gunn pull it off with some clever one-darned-thing-after-another plotting.

Granted, Dirty Weekend shares common elements with plenty of Death Trap-esque one-set, five-character thrillers, but its energy and attitude distinguish it from the field. Enjoyably messy and endearingly cynical when it comes to the human heart, Dirty Weekend is recommended for fans of British-French thriller co-productions looking for light distraction on VOD platforms, including iTunes.