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Movie Review: The Tiger's Tail
by Bridget Haggerty

Directed by John Boorman ('Excalibur' 'The General') reviews for 'The Tiger's Tail' run the gamut from boring to brilliant. The truth is probably somewhere in between for this thriller-style drama about what happens to a wealthy Dublin property developer who gets stuck in a rush hour traffic jam and suddenly sees his double. Mere coincidence? Or is this unlikely meeting part of a dark and mysterious plot?

Liam O'Leary, played by Brendan Gleeson, is the wealthy businessman. He is from humble beginnings, but has grown powerful and rich thanks to Ireland's economic boom. Unfortunately, the era of the Celtic Tiger is rapidly coming to an end and Liam's firm is in deep financial trouble. However, he still dreams about building a national sports stadium - a dream shared by a rival builder who is doing whatever he can to spoil Liam's plans. At the same time, Liam's home life is also less than perfect. While the family appear to be enjoying all the trappings of prosperity, his marriage has grown stale and he neglects his wife. In addition, his rebellious teenage son feels ignored and tries to get his dad's attention by adopting off the wall political views.

It's into this stressed and over-stretched scenario that Liam finds himself face to face with the spitting image of himself staring back at him through the windshield. And that is just the beginning of what is to become a series of sightings and Liam's eventual realization that the mystery man is intentionally trying to steal his identity and step into his shoes.

At times gritty and disturbing, The Tiger's Tale was not popular with Irish movie goers. But Boorman is famous for not shying away from the truth and making us feel uncomfortable. (Deliverance immediately comes to mind). That said, I was intrigued by life in modern day Dublin and how it is for the haves and have nots. And I found myself thoroughly engrossed in how Liam deals with what is happening to him, how he fights to stay alive and keep his sanity, and ultimately, what he does when he must confront the once unknown skeleton in his closet.

George Bernard Shaw once said "If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." Brendan Gleeson, playing both Liam O'Leary and his double, does a fine job of doing exactly that.

Described in some reviews as a black comedy, I found nothing to laugh about. But there are ironic twists which should evoke a smile here and there. If you want to know how it all plays out, the movie is available here: The Tiger's Tail - amazon.

Photo Credit: John Boorman/Wikipedia


Thu, Dec 7, 2017

Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*

Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
*Old Irish Christmas toast
Image: Pashley Manor Gardens.

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