ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  john boorman

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  espionage

LENGTH  -  109 minutes

RELEASED  -  30 march 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  columbia pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  tailor of panama

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $18,000,000
the tailor of panama - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the tailor of panama at

buy the dvd from the tailor of panama at

a tailor living in panama reluctantly becomes a spy for a british agent.

this film's december 2000 release date was pushed back to march 2001 to allow for re-shoots.


picture from the tailor of panama

picture from the tailor of panama

picture from the tailor of panama


two out of four possible stars

Confusing and muddled, The Tailor of Panama weaves a complicated story with many characters and not much direction. From the director or otherwise. A few of the faces in this movie are beautiful, and a few of the others are interesting, but this film takes quite a meandering route to its conclusion. Pierce Brosnan plays the disreputable "Andrew Osnard," a British agent (no, this isn't James Bond) who forces an equally disreputable man, "Harry Pendel," played by Geoffrey Rush, to help him in dirty spy work.

The reason why Brosnan wants to wrangle Rush's character into the spy game is never really made clear. As are a lot of things in this film. It's as if the director (or whoever was in charge of this production) just wanted to parade some intriguing events across the screen with some beautiful faces to match. This film starts off with a debonair looking Pierce Brosnan floating into Panama with the intent of making a mess out of everything. But there's never a reason given as to why he wants to cause all that trouble. He just sets out upon doing it. And it's never even clear if what he's doing is actually malicious or really part of his job. And it's hard to figure out what is it he actually supposed to be doing, while he creates all this mischief. Brosnan's role is probably the most confusing element to this story.

But despite the failings in story, each of the actors seems to have made it a priority to look like filming on the set of this film was a blast. Although some of the situations are serious, most of the characters actually seem jolly. Which is a strange element, given that the movie's supposed to be a spy thriller. Or is it a farce? It is never clear what this movie's trying to say to its audience. And futhermore, what type of audience were the executives planning this film intending would be attracted to buying tickets? James Bond fans? Fans of Panama City? People who hate James Bond (given the farcical nature of this film)? It's an unknown element to this script that, just like the strange plot, makes it hard to know what's going on in this film.

But, despite these failings, the performances in the film are all a credit to the actors' abilities in front of the camera. If anything is to be taken from this film, it's those performances. Pierce Brosnan may be a wayward soul in this film, but his character is just as sophisticated and stylish as audiences have come to expect from the actor. And the fact that he plays such a disreputable character is a nice twist from the normal super good guy persona of James Bond. Though it's curious that he chose another spy movie to star in during his hiatis from filming the latest in the Bond series. If anything, Brosnan is only making sure that he is type-cast even further in the role of sly spy with his role in this film.

Like his similar role in The Thomas Crown Affair, it seems impossible for Brosnan to choose any other type of role. It must say somewhere in his contract that all the script sent to him must include characters with the word "suave" in the description. But whatever the reason for his choice in deciding to do this film, Brosnan is suave. He blends in perfectly with the South American scenery of Panama and gives the picture a mysterious quality which is only added to with the many interesting buildings chosen for the locations. The art director and the cinematographer either had a lot of luck in finding their locations or they were both very talented people.

Because every frame of this movie is gorgeous to look at. So interesting, in fact, that the deficiencies in other areas of the story almost become secondary with all the nice scenery to look at. Both human and geological. Catherine McCormack, playing the feisty yet intelligent role of Francesca Deane, is a good match, both physically and mentally, for Brosnan's intensity. And Geoffrey Rush, playing the title role in the film, is also an interesting character. He brings more to the screen than one would think possible, given his unassuming appearance, but he can deliver the goods with any character he chooses to play.

The one mystery in casting in this film was the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis to play Geoffrey Rush's wife. She's never able to make her character look like she's really in love with or married to Rush. Or that she'd even want to be in that relationship. It seems as though the people responsible for holding the purse strings on this film wanted an American in the cast to make the film appealing to Americans. But that reason seems strange, given that Rush and Brosnan don't need any help in making themselves appealing to non-British and Australian audiences. But, despite this mishap in casting, the rest of the performances are quite good. What people need to do to enjoy this film is forget that the plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense and look at the nice looking people and the handsome scenery for any enjoyment.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs columbia pictures 2001
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