The Tailor of Panama
Fans of novelist John le Carré will find The Tailor of Panama a surprising but most pleasant change of pace from his usual tales of Cold War conspiracies. Director John Boorman's version of le Carré's 1996 novel takes a blackly comedic look at the corrupt side of spying. British agent Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan, doing a marvelous reversal of his James Bond routine) and tailor Harry Pendel (an equally splendid Geoffrey Rush) are a charming duo. Bad-boy spy Osnard has been sent to far off Panama as punishment for too much snookering in high places. Bored (describing the locale as "Casablanca without heroes"), Osnard goes looking for dirt and puts the squeeze on Pendel, a con artist turned family man. Accepting, as Osnard cynically says, that "truth is an affliction," Pendel spins a web of lies that leads to a series of comic misunderstandings and brings two governments to the brink of war. Brosnon clearly relishes portraying Osnard as the crude lech who the British agent Bond was based on probably really was, while Rush brings an oddly touching vulnerability to the hapless Pendel. Panama is a pure delight, with supporting roles filled by Jamie Lee Curtis and Brendan Gleeson and a cameo by playwright Harold Pinter.