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Case Number 17154

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The Tiger's Tail

MGM // 2006 // 107 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Ben Saylor (Retired) // August 31st, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Ben Saylor's double wrote this review, which explains how well written it is.

The Charge

"I've just seen myself cleaning my windscreen."

Opening Statement

Writer-director John Boorman has, over the past several decades, amassed a filmography that is as eclectic as it is variable in quality; for every Point Blank and Deliverance, there's an Exorcist II: The Heretic and Beyond Rangoon. Boorman's 2006 feature The Tiger's Tail, while certainly not the out-and-out misfire Exorcist II represents, nonetheless falls far short of its maker's best work.

Facts of the Case

Liam O'Leary (Brendan Gleeson, 28 Days Later) is a successful Dublin businessman with a bombshell wife, Jane (Kim Cattrall, Ice Princess), and Marxism-spouting son, Connor(Gleeson's real-life son Briain). One day, while driving home, Liam glimpses what appears to be an exact double of him. This man (also played by Gleeson) begins popping up with alarming frequency, although, much to Liam's chagrin, no one else ever sees him. As the double begins to move against Liam—stealing his identity, bedding his wife—the two's positions become reversed, and Liam finds himself an outcast.

The Evidence

The Tiger's Tail requires what proves to be an unwieldy amount of suspension of disbelief. The ease with which the double (who is never given a name) steals Liam's identity doesn't make sense; Liam's sister Oona (Sinéad Cusack) reveals to Liam fairly early on that the double is his twin brother, who was given up for adoption by Oona, who is actually Liam's mother. Stay with me here. But when the double begins charging things using Liam's name, inexplicably, Liam never mentions to the police that it's his twin brother that's causing all the trouble. He also never bothers to tell Jane, or better yet, have Oona explain the whole thing to her. Even after Liam is arrested and put in a psychiatric hospital, it should be fairly easy for him to prove his identity; instead, a convenient change in hospital policy sets him free.

One of the more clever conceits of the movie is that Liam's double, in stealing his brother's identity, soon finds himself in over his head when he learns that Liam's firm is on the verge of collapse. But this and other satirical elements of the film are never exploited to their fullest potential, and thanks to yet another silly contrivance, Liam is able to save his company quite easily.

The ending of The Tiger's Tail is also a head-scratcher; Liam determines that his wife has fallen in love with his double and that he (Liam) should step aside. Never mind the fact that this newfound "love" is based on a risible scene in which the double takes Jane to bed by force. Jane resists, but then, inexplicably not only relents but also starts to enjoy herself. Never mind that the double seems indifferent at best to Liam's son, who eventually runs away from home and attempts suicide. Never mind that…well, just never mind.

Ultimately, it's Gleeson who comes away the best from The Tiger's Tail. In a rare lead performance for the actor, Gleeson is excellent in his dual role. Given the absurdity of the film, there is certainly the danger of an actor running wild with these roles (particularly when Liam is sent to the hospital), but Gleeson is smarter than this and delivers an energetic and believable performance(s).

Unfortunately, several of Gleeson's colleagues don't fare so well. Cattrall starts out strong, but her accent is intermittent, and she goes way over the top during a scene when she is confronted by Liam (but who she thinks is the double). It's not all Cattrall's fault; her character is utterly ruined by the afore-mentioned sex scene. Briain Gleeson's Connor is like a commie version of Lukas Haas' arch conservative in Everyone Says I Love You, only not at all amusing to watch. To be fair to Gleeson, though, he's really given some awful material. Cusack has some touching moments as Oona, and Ciarán Hinds (Margot at the Wedding) turns up in a bad haircut for a few scenes to play Father Andy, a childhood friend of Liam's.

MGM's DVD of The Tiger's Tail is satisfactory from a technical standpoint; the image and sound are both in line with what one would expect from a recent theatrical release. There are no extras.

Closing Statement

Undone by a ludicrous, implausible script, The Tiger's Tail is recommended only for Boorman completists and/or diehard Gleeson fans.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Video: 94
Audio: 94
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 65
Judgment: 68

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy
• Drama
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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