Monday, August 24, 2009

Jay's Review: The Tiger's Tail

Here's my most recent review to appear on DVDsnapshot - check it out!



In a society divided by haves and have-nots, wealthy Irish capitalist Liam O'Leary has it all. But now, Liam is being stalked by a menacing look-alike, intent on stealing away everything he has: his job, his wife, and his sanity. Liam must fight to stay alive and uncover the shocking secret of his past.


I'm pretty sure John Boorman started writing this film while dwelling on the proverb "What does it profit you if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?" The Tiger's Tail, (named for a reference to the "Celtic Tiger" economic boom that Ireland enjoyed in the late 90s and early 00s) tells the story of a wealthy, successful, and stressed-out businessman, the most-Irish Liam O'Leary, who finds a mysterious double following him. This other is seemingly intent on taking over his life; overleveraged business and chilly, estranged family included. Questions of identity and recognition abound as Liam learns about his troubled past, the loss of his present, and the questions that will be his future.

While the film gets off to a languorous start, the pacing and acting engage the viewer into staying for the full ride. While the mystery is dispensed with quickly, the story has well-trod elements that play out in a mesmerizing way thanks to John Boorman's experienced direction and excellent cast. Brendan Gleeson's Liam and the Doppelganger are both multi-layered performances. He's playing a man in full, and it carries the film so well that after you watch it the smoke clears and you see the story to me more simple and direct than you thought.

Liam's birth family is fraught with secrets and he frequently engages people who're in the process of losing their own memories and identities just as he's questioning his own. However, his home life seems to be just a Greek chorus of two. His son serves to bring up possibilities about identity: doppelgangers, clones, and engage in debates about communism (his father is the "one" profiting from the "many," and all). Kim Cattrall plays a wife who goes from chilly with the husband to falling back in love through the replacement. She has thudding lines about his being a new man and seems only an Irish version of the more comedic "Social X-Ray" wife she played in The Bonfire of the Vanities. Though she's played such characters before, she does bring a spark of real, honest life to a character who's just about unconquerable in her canned reactions.

This is a nice, quiet gem with familiar elements. Just because they're familiar though doesn't make them unworthy of a watch.


Mila Kunis and Peter Stormare in Boot Camp, which seems like a classing-up of a women's prison movie channeled through the bad-teen rehab featured on every other episode of Maury Povich.
The Betrayed - Melissa George has to kill her hubby Christian Campbell.
Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) and Jason Lewis-clone Chris Carmack are in Into The Blue 2: The Reef. I'm sure it makes you long for the depth and gravitas of the first film.

Just Play, Scene Selections and Language Selection:
Audio: English 5.1 and Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English or None
This film runs 107 minutes and is rated R

A man with everything has it all taken away and has to learn who he really is when he's literally confronted with himself. There's little here to offend and not much flash. It's a film for adults, not necessarily due to content, but to content. This is a story about the cross-roads reached in middle age and in marriages. Also, it's about resolving family secrets. Mostly, it's a fine Irish yarn from a very accomplished director with a good cast and the occasional flash of dry, dark wit. I think it's a rewarding watch.

Film: B
Extras: F

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