The Tailor of Panama

John Le Carre made his fortune by delving into the world of spies. The British novelist’s works include ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ and ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ and he continues to write stirring espionage tales. Many have been turned into film and TV adaptations with ‘The Tailor of Panama’ being one. In spite of its unusual casting choices, it gamely navigates Le Carre’s shadowy universe with flair.

Reassigned to Panama after several scandals, shady MI6 Agent Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan) looks for new opportunities. Andy’s target is equally wayward local tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush). Tailor to Panama’s elite, Andy sees this as a way to have access to the city’s dodgy dealings. When Harry’s wife Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis) also captures Andy’s attentions, double crosses and Panama’s powerful government loom large in the trio’s uncertain futures.

The best one can say about ‘The Tailor of Panama’ is that it’s never dull. Unlike most Le Carre stories, it plays more like a satirical version of his spy sagas. As soon as you realize that then ‘The Tailor of Panama’ becomes more enjoyable. John Boorman’s eccentric direction also highlights its strange flavour. Coupled with the harsh editing, it ensures you’re glued to what’s happening. Half the film doesn’t work but the other half of great, full of amusing lines and oozing style.

Brosnan, Rush and Curtis make for an unlikely screen trio. Despite that they bring much to their roles with Brosnan having a grand time as an anti-James Bond shyster. The cinematography is a huge plus with Panama’s streets brought to colourfully vivid life.

‘The Tailor of Panama’ is a strange, dream-like movie. It may not be what you expect, which isn’t a bad thing. It often doesn’t work but when it does, it fires. It’s more interesting watching a quirky film than one adhering to formula with a different type of Le Carre story reaching the screen with panache.

Rating out of 10: 6


Veronica Guerin

Charting a real person’s life can be challenging. How much one expresses their true personality is a mark of a good writer. ‘Veronica Guerin’ walks this tightrope with mixed results. Recently deceased director Joel Schumacher and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were not known for story-telling subtlety. Although they martyr their subject to a degree, ‘Veronica Guerin’ still tells an interesting tale of a person refusing to give up no matter the consequences.

Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett) is a crime reporter for the Sunday Independent newspaper in Dublin. Determined to write an article exposing Dublin’s major drug lords and suppliers, her efforts catch the ire of dangerous people such as fearsome drug baron John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley). Pushing ahead with her quest at any cost, her unwavering sense of justice would inspire others.

‘Veronica Guerin’ is blessed with a compelling story ripe for a gripping film. Unfortunately this isn’t it as instead of unearthing the character’s backgrounds, the film-makers go for pure melodrama. The story relies on biopic clichés with originality rarely seen. This isn’t the fault of the performers who give it their all within the context of their thinly written roles.

‘Veronica Guerin’s’ main problem is the wrong people were in charge of telling her story. Her perseverance and integrity were admirable with her dealings with the drug trade interesting. A few of these elements find their way into the script. Overall there’s a ‘TV movie of the week’ feel with the brisk run-time more concerned with surface gloss than gritty realism.

It’s more disappointing seeing a movie squandering its potential. Although having several intriguing moments, ‘Veronica Guerin’ makes its subjects’ extraordinary efforts seem mundane. That in itself is a crime worthy of investigation with a Wikipedia entry on the title character likely to provide more substance than the film bearing her name.

Rating out of 10: 5