Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Tailor of Panama

Lowdown: A sleazy spy drags a naive tailor and the world to war over Panama's canal.
Our PVR adventures continued, this time with The Tailor of Panama, a 2001 film release. This was the third time I got to watch this film, but the unique thing about this current viewing is that The Tailor of Panama was the very first TV program we have recorded on our PVR more than six months ago, off Channel 10; yet one of the nice things about the PVR is that things you have recorded are always handily waiting for you to watch them.
The Tailor of Panama, like The Constant Gardener, is based on a book by John le Carré. I always had a problem with le Carré: the books of his that I have read as a teenager were all way too slow and boring. Perhaps things have changed, though, as both the Tailor and the Gardener are nice if not good films dealing with international conspiracies of one kind or another. Yet I suspect that overall, The Tailor of Panama is a film that is going to be remembered for its big screen debut of a kid called Daniel Radcliffe and for the sole reason that this nice kid went on to play in the Harry Potter conglomerate. Yes, I'm being cynical, but with a good reason: Tailor is a very cynical film to begin with, but it's also a film with some excellent acting (unlike the Potter franchise).
Tailor follows Pierce Brosnan, an MI6 agent relegated to a minor role in minor Panama after messing with a diplomat's woman at his previous international post. Brosnan has grand aspirations for his professional career, none of them of the good kind, so he engages a local British citizen tailor (Geoffrey Rush) in an effort to create something out of his nothing post. Rush, enchanted by the attention of the money flashing Brosnan, is only too eager to supply the goods in the shape of entirely fictional stories about the government of Panama's intention to sell the canal to Chinese interests and a "Silent Opposition's" plans of fighting that.
The fictional story gains momentum as, on one side, countries are recruited to fight for all that is fair and just, whereas on the other people find themselves in more and more complicated situations (most notably, Rush with his American wife, Jamie Lee Curtis).
Cleverly directed by John Boorman (whom I will always remember due to his The Emerald Forest being the very first film I got to watch with the aid of eyeglasses), The Tailor of Panama is an unassuming clever little [cynical] story that lies somewhere between being a drama, a thriller, and a comedy. Aided by well developed characters of real life authenticity, it is a clever story of how easily people can get carried away and how easily countries can do the same. The eagerness with which the USA will go out to fight for the canal in the film is very well matched by the eagerness I have experienced in the corporate world to go out and do completely meaningless and useless stuff in the name of a stupid agenda some would be hot shot manager woke up with one morning, all of which makes the film's premises quite believable. I only wonder how many of this world's problems are the result of big egos and sleaze like The Tailor of Panama's Brosnan.
Best scene: The very end scene, in which Rush cooks pancakes for his family. Because this is the way big stories end, with normal people going back to do normal things.
Overall: I'll be hard on Tailor and give it only 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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