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Girls' Night Review

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The nicer half of a terrible twosome, Dawn (Blethyn), discovers she is dying from cancer and the other, Jackie (Walters), feels bad because she was out the back shagging the bingo compere when Dawn's full house came up. Selfless and uncomplaining, Dawn decides to share her winnings with the feckless Jackie despite her husband's protestations and they head off to Las Vegas for a final fling.

★★★★★

Shades of Shirley Valentine, Thelma And Louise and Terms Of Endearment pervade this would-be weepie of a female buddy movie, which stars Julie Walters in the sort of lippy Northerner role she can presumably play in her sleep. Although all the right ingredients are there, the recipe somehow doesn't quite work out.

Scripted by Kay Mellor, who is better known for writing such TV dramas as Band Of Gold, it charts the terminal months of the friendship between two production line factory workers who win a fortune at the bingo hall. Shifting the scenario to Vegas afforded Mellor and director Hurran the opportunity to switch pace and live a little; instead, the film feels morbidly unbalanced. Ages are spent setting the scene - factory tiffs, failed love affairs and grim hospital tests - and then the spur-of-the-moment trip is squeezed into the time usually spent on a blockbuster's closing credits.

The liaison with a leathery Kristofferson's kindly cowboy doesn't ring true and, the idea that Dawn's noble suffering makes those around her look guiltily in the mirror just isn't subtle or surprising enough to flood the tear ducts.

There's plenty of witty banter and Walters gives a gutsy performance (if a bit of a Walters cliche), but the assembled talent can't fashion this into much more than a mediocre television play in an ill-fitting cinema suit.

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