What's a spy to do if he can't even land a decent assignment?
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA, based on a John Le Carré novel, is directed in a
laidback fashion by John Boorman (THE GENERAL). Not exactly a spy story or a
comedy, although it has aspects of both, the movie is basically a character
study. Although the acting by the leads, Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and
Jamie Lee Curtis, is consistently dead-on, it isn't until the last act that
the story finally comes together.
After some dalliance in Madrid, MI6 operative Andy Osnard (Brosnan) is
relegated to the backwater assignment of a post-Noriega Panama. Deciding
that there must be some major international incident afoot if he can just
find the right source, Andy turns to a tailor, Harry Pendel (Rush), since he
figures that everyone confides in their tailor. Moreover, since Andy knows
that Harry has a secret criminal past, he uses that to blackmail him. Rush,
who has a tendency to overachieve with his acting, is decidedly reserved
this time. Harry, wanting to please and scared to do otherwise, manufactures
some political intrigue for Andy.
Brosnan, famous for his 007 role, plays Andy as the anti-Bond. Although
Andy, like Bond, sleeps with as many women as possible and speaks fluent
double entendre, he is as slimy and oily as Bond is slick and debonair. It
is a wonderful against type performance by Brosnan and the best argument for
seeing the movie.
In a smaller but equally important part, Jamie Lee Curtis plays Harry's
loyal and loving wife. With a quiet intensity, Curtis manages to dominate
scenes that others should own. And in an age in which actors have no problem
with massive violence but carefully write no-nudity clauses into their
contracts, Curtis has a good body and is more than happy to flaunt it. She
has some simple but erotically charged scenes with Brosnan. The best of
these has her breast literally falling out of her low-cut dress. This
incident has more genuine sexuality than a dozen canonical scenes of humping
actors on squeaking bed frames.
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA is a small movie that ages well. The more you think
about it; the more you appreciate its subtle charms.
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA runs 1:49. It is rated R for strong sexuality, language
and some violence and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes