The Tiger’s Tail
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr John Boorman
with Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Sinéad Cusack, Ciarán Hinds, Sean McGinley, Briain Gleeson, Angeline Ball, Cathy Belton, Denis Conway, Tom Vaughan Lawlor, Charlene McKenna, John Kavanagh
release Ire 10.Nov.06,
UK 8.Jun.07
06/Ireland 1h47
The Tiger's Tail
Body double: Cattrall with Brendan and Briain Gleeson

cusack hinds mcginley

The Tiger's Tail Despite Boorman's subtle, suggestive direction and a nice central performance from Gleeson, this low-key thriller never quite works. Especially with the gigantic plot holes.

Liam O'Leary (Gleeson) is a charismatic property developer in Dublin, beloved by the business community and his staff, although his marriage to the glamorous Jane (Cattrall) has gone dry and his teen son (well-played by Gleeson's real son Briain) has gone all anti-establishment on him. This bittersweet success combines with middle age to make Liam secretly haunted, afraid of his own shadow. But wait a minute, maybe that's not his shadow: it's actually a double, who's trying to take over his life. And his mother (Cusack) has the key to his long-secret past.

Boorman is clearly trying to examine the dark side of the Celtic Tiger (Ireland's booming economy), with Liam's long-lost twin representing the have-nots, discriminated against by a cruel twist of fate like a modern-day Prince and the Pauper, and now demanding their share. This is an interesting theme, as is Liam's mid-life crisis and familial strain, but the film is just far too dull and ponderous to make it work. Especially as it strains to crank up from a political black comedy to a stalker thriller.

As always, Gleeson delivers a fascinating performance, adding shadings to both Liam and his doppelganger, really getting under the skin as they interact with the people around them. He's the main reason to see this film. Cattrall is fine in an underwritten role; we can cope with her strangled accent, although her reaction to sexual aggression is much more troublesome.

Despite some clever, if somewhat obvious, commentary on capitalist excesses, the film can't sustain its severely contrived story. With a faster pace we might have missed the glaring inconsistencies, such as how the interloper doesn't need a signature or PIN to access a bank account, or how he so effortlessly steals Liam's identity without having any history with Liam's friends or family. Meanwhile, Liam's fall into homelessness and poverty feels equally corny, made worse by the silly slush-fest finale. After all of this, even Gleeson's terrific performance can't make us care.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality 19.Mar.07

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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall