Women Talking Dirty Review
In her first year at Edinburgh University, Cora O'Brien (Helena Bonham Carter) is made pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend. One night in a pub, she meets Ellen (Gina McKee), an art student. One night Cora rings Ellen, but Ellen's philandering husband Daniel (James Purefoy) answers the phone. Daniel then goes to the pub where Cora is alone, introduces himself as "Freddy". They end up in bed together. Later, Cora finds out she is pregnant - and only then does she find out who "Freddy" really is. And what can she tell Ellen?
Women Talking Dirty, adapted from her own novel by Isla Dewar, is the first film from Elton John's production company Rocket Pictures. (He served as executive producer and wrote the score.) The film is essentially a female buddy movie. The two-year lag between copyright date and release date might lead you to expect the worst, but once you get over the shock of Helena Bonham Carter in a silly hairstyle and a none-too-convincing Scottish accent it's watchable enough but undistinguished. Gina McKee comes off a lot better as the shy, artistic Ellen, but it's clear that both actresses are too old for their roles (from early to mid twenties).
Miscasting aside, the major problem – as with so many British films – is an underdeveloped script, with characters seeming to come out of nowhere. (Kenneth Cranham and Richard Wilson, as a gay couple, seem to have lost their introductory scene.) Maybe it's the usual problem of trying to cram in a full-length novel into an hour and a half: the film, much of it told in flashback from a fateful dinner party, seems sketchy. It's none too realistic, either: Cora is clearly living beyond her means as an unemployed single mother, and the plot hinges on Daniel leaving his gambling winnings hidden in a sofa instead of taking them with him.
I haven't seen Stella Does Tricks, the debut film of director Coky Giedroyc. (She's the older sister of comedian/TV presenter Mel Giedroyc, by the way.) Her work here is competent enough, and is given a boost from Brian Tufano's camerawork, which gives the film some visual flair on its obviously low budget. Add some attractive location shots of Edinburgh, and you get a film which will pass an hour and a half amiably enough (except for many male viewers who will no doubt boycott an out-and-out "women's movie" like this) but isn't especially distinguished.