"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

The Tailor Of Panama

06 Apr 2002

I was so looking forward to this film. And now, I am looking forward to not remembering it, so I'd better get this down on paper before the whole fragile mass collapses with the next puff of wind.

Pierce Brosnan plays a disgraced British spy who is sent to Panama where he won't cause any more trouble. There, he hooks up with Jeoffrey Rush's character, a tailor who dresses the rich and powerful in the Saville Row tradition. He's married to a highly-placed civil servant, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Blah blah blah, Panama Canal, blah blah blah, The Silent Opposition, blah blah blah, here come the Americans, guns a-blazing.

Once again, I'm reminded of a line from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Clint Eastwood is watching Confederate and Union armies kill each other with reckless aplomb. The line is something like: "I've never seen so many good men wasted so badly."

That's pretty much how I felt about this film, too. There's lot of talent walking about in the frame, but none of it is being put to any use, despite having a script by spy novelist John Le Carré. Harold Pinter even makes a squandered appearance as the tailor's Uncle Benny. It's never a good sign for a film to have a character called "Uncle Benny". Never, ever, unless he's played by James Hong and it's in a Hong Kong action film.

At least they got the title right. The film is largely about the tailor, not the spy. (Surprising there was no tinker in the story, given its author). He's usually dressed in a rather nice suit, which I couldn't take my eyes off of. What does it say about a film when you spend more time examining the haberdashery than the film itself?

On the plus side, watching it did give me a feel for the seamy underside of Panama City, though by the end of the film, I just felt soiled.

Related Sites

The Tailor Of Panama (IMDB)