Review: The Tiger’s Tail

Tiger’s Tail never feels like the work of director known for his subtle and poetic dramatizations of moral crisis.

The Tiger’s Tail
Photo: Outsider Pictures

Like Cassandra’s Dream, The Tiger’s Tail prominently features a boat that is both symbol of financial attainment and emotional ruin. It also finds a master filmmaker defying the “show, don’t tell” principle with almost crippling cynicism. John Boorman condescends to his audience, kookily but heavy-handedly linking the personal to the political, beginning with a traffic jam during which a prominent Irish businessmen, Liam O’Leary (Brendan Gleeson), gives a homeless man a bottle of wine and a passerby waves a newspaper around like a placard, a headline announcing “the greatest rich-poor divide in Europe” on the front page. No one believes Liam when he starts raving about a lookalike haunting his periphery, but his radical communist-leaning son happily analyzes the rich man’s crisis in line after line of overwritten dialogue: After calling Liam a “victim of internal contradictions of capitalism,” he diagnoses the doppelganger as “a projection of the part of you that you hate,” then delights in being in a “story by Kafka” when father and son go hunting for the mystery man through the vomit-strewn streets of Dublin. At home, Jane (Kim Cattrall) complains about feeling like one of Liam’s acquisitions, and when her husband’s long-lost twin successfully (and incredulously) infiltrates her bed, sending Liam to the loony bin, the film collapses under the dual weight of its soap-operatic premise and ugly-looking aesthetic. Gleeson is vivacious, but Boorman bald-facedly elucidates the political essence of the story: Liam’s brother as a representation of all the people that have been left behind by the new world order. Save for a shot of the brothers locked in an embrace on a rocky beach, Tiger’s Tail never feels like the work of director known for his subtle and poetic dramatizations of moral crisis.

Score: 
 Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Sinéad Cusack, Ciarán Hinds, Sean McGinley, Briain Gleeson  Director: John Boorman  Screenwriter: John Boorman  Distributor: Outsider Pictures  Running Time: 102 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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