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The Tailor Of Panama (R)

Paramount Pictures
Official Site

Director: John Boorman
Producer: John Boorman, Kevan Barker, John Le Carre
Written by: Andrew Davies, John Le Carre, John Boorman (based on novel by John Le Carre)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis, Leonor Varela, Brendan Gleeson


Rating: out of 5


Based on the book by John Le Carre, THE TAILOR OF PANAMA is a dark comedy that tackles the issues of espionage and government ineptitude surrounding the political hotspot, the Panama Canal.

Banished to Panama for his transgressions, MI-6 man Andy Osnard (Brosnan) finds himself posted in diplomatic no-man's-land. With little to do, Osnard begins to weave a tangled web of deceit with help from an unwitting tailor (Rush).

In the hopes of feeding lofty tales of impending purchase of the Panama Canal by the Chinese, Japanese, and French to British officials, Osnard must find a man on the inside. As a tailor to various high-ranking Panamanian officials, Harry Pendel seems a perfect candidate, and his sordid past is an unending source for blackmail which Osnard uses to his advantage.

Pendel concocts a wonderful story regarding the imminent take-over of the canal, along with a post-Noreiga uprising from those still reeling from the brutal treatment of their former oppressor. The British embassy and the American government seem more than willing to swallow all of the tall tales presented to them and so ensues a story of unending deception.

THE TAILOR OF PANAMA is brilliantly crafted, with an ironic sensibility which mocks both spy film conventions and political shortcomings. Brosnan is smirk-inducing as the cunningly aggressive MI-6 man, who has a way with the ladies and habit of pushing his luck a little too far.

The most compelling and humorous moments of the movie come about during the hush-hush encounters between Osnard and Pendel. Osnard has a way of disconcerting his nervous "informant" by arranging meetings at places from gay dance clubs to shady motels. The two seem blissfully aware of the game of lies in which they are both entangled, especially Osnard who has long since lost his moral compass.

Throughout the film, Pendel struggles with his glaring weaknesses to keep his place in respectable society, and keep his sordid past history from loving wife Louisa (Lee Curtis). He wants nothing more than to succeed at the game he has involved himself in, and help those dear to his heart, such as former anti-Noriega rebels Mickie (Gleeson) and assistant Marta (Varela).

Although at times the plot seems to be get lost in the incessant lies told by various characters and government officials, the strength of both Brosnan's and Rush's performances alleviate any unease on the part of the audience. THE TAILOR OF PANAMA provides an intriguing story with tragically flawed characters and incorporates twisted humor for good measure.

-Priti Ubhayakar

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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