Twin Powers

A Lack Of Sympathetic Characters Hurts The Tiger's Tail

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Filmed in 2006 and just now receiving a truncated U.S. theatrical release, John Boorman's (Deliverance, Excalibur) The Tiger's Tail jumbles together a slew of compelling themes (including identity theft and the global economic crisis) to precious little effect. Protagonist Liam O'Leary (the estimable Brendan Gleeson) feels like a retread of previous Boorman characters in films like Where the Heart Is (Dabney Coleman) and Leo the Last (Marcello Mastroianni): rich, powerful businessmen whose lives are upended to comical, or at least quasi-satirical, effect.

The major problem with The Tiger's Tail - besides its inconsistency of tone and off-putting heavy-handedness - is that Liam is never remotely sympathetic or even particularly likable. When the twin he never knew existed (also played by Gleeson) begins stalking him and eventually usurps his life, it doesn't matter which tow-haired brother comes out on top.

They're both Class A pricks. Certainly Liam's neglected wife Jane (Kim Cattrall) and teenage son Connor (Briain Gleeson) don't seem to give a damn who's writing the checks. At 76, Boorman is still clinging to the same utopian vision that already seemed dated in 1970's Leo (and was the source of considerable bittersweet nostalgia 20 years later in Heart). He doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that hippie utopias don't exist anymore as fact, fiction or fairy tale. If Liam is "a victim of the eternal contradictions of capitalism" - according to the Marxist-leaning Connor - Boorman is the victim of a creativity-crushing naiveté.

The only moment that rings true is when Liam's priest friend (Ciarán Hinds, very good) reminds him "the more homes you build, the more homeless there are." That emotionally charged exchange briefly touches on the movie The Tiger's Tail could have been, if Boorman had taken his head out of the clouds long enough to smell the stench of 21st-century life.

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