Sunday, June 17, 2007

Body Doublin' in Bloddy Dublin

The Tiger's Tail, Cineworld, Broad Street, Birmingham, Sunday June 10 2007, 3.50pm.

One of those films that have stuck in your correspondent's mind from his youth, as much for the premise as the execution, is Basil Dearden's The Man Who Haunted Himself(1970) in which Roger Moore plays a man who becomes drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with an identical double following a high-speed car crash. The doppelganger steadily infiltrates himself into the man's life, impersonating him at home and at work, infuriatingly becoming more popular and charismatic than his victim before ultimately displacing his alter ego.

It's an idea which veteran director John Boorman has returned to in The Tiger's Tail (2006), opting to play for laughs rather than search for thrills by using the premise as a broad satire on contemporary Dublin, which as well as being the home of Twenty and Arseblogger, has the biggest divide between rich and poor in Europe. The film is bookended by two huge traffic jams, and it's in the first of these where Brendan Gleeson's avaricious business developer gets the initial glimpse of his double. Troubled by thoughts that this vision is a portend of imminent death, his life and sanity steadily unravel as the usual comic complications lead to him trading places with his doppelganger, sending him on a quest to get to the bottom of the mystery and in the process uncovering the lies, hypocrisy, peccadillos and corruption of modern Dublin.

Notionally a comedy, The Tiger's Tail works hard to incorporate some serious themes but present them in a likeable, inclusive manner. This ambition ultimately works against the film, however, as the breezy pace dictates a lack of subtlety which will leave some viewers feeling patronised, and indeed, in the case of the ill-conceived scene where Kim Cattrall's character joyfully acquiesces to the usurper's 'rape', mortally offended. A shame, because there's much to like about the film, and with a straighter telling and more thoughtful plotting there would have been potential for a something near to Boorman at his best. As it is, though, Dead Kenny is afraid to report the arrival of nothing more significant than an interesting misfire.

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