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The Tailor of Panama (2001)

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A tailor living in Panama reluctantly becomes a spy for a British Agent.

Director:

John Boorman

Writers:

John le Carré (novel), Andrew Davies (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierce Brosnan ... Osnard
Geoffrey Rush ... Harry
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Louisa
Leonor Varela ... Marta
Brendan Gleeson ... Mickie Abraxas
Harold Pinter ... Uncle Benny
Catherine McCormack ... Francesca
Daniel Radcliffe ... Mark
Lola Boorman Lola Boorman ... Sarah
David Hayman ... Luxmore
Mark Margolis ... Rafi Domingo
Martin Ferrero ... Teddy
John Fortune ... Maltby
Martin Savage Martin Savage ... Stormont
Edgardo Molino Edgardo Molino ... Juan-David
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Storyline

John LeCarre's spy thriller is brought to the big screen. A British spy is banished to Panama after having an affair with an ambassador's mistress. Once there he makes connection with a local tailor with a criminal past and connections to all of the top political and gangster figures in Panama. The tailor also has a wife, who works for the canal administrator, and a huge debt. The spy's mission is to learn what the President intends to do with the Panama Canal, but he's really in business for himself, blackmailing the tailor into spinning a fantastic tale about the canal being sold to China and former mercenaries ready to topple the current government. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A first-class thriller from John Boorman - director EXCALIBUR and DELIVERANCE. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Production Notes

Country:

USA | Ireland

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

30 March 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El sastre de Panamá See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,837,068, 1 April 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,729,742, 3 July 2004

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,278,720, 3 July 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital EX

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The following characters, and the actors and actresses who portrayed them, had the following nicknames: Andrew Osnard (Pierce Brosnan) - "Andy"; Harold Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) - "Harry"; Louisa Pendel (Jamie Lee Curtis) - "Lou"; Michelangelo Abraxas (Brendan Gleeson) - "Mickie"; Mr Braithwaite (Harold Pinter) - "Uncle Benny"; and Ernesto Delgado (Luis Antonio Gotti) - "Ernie". See more »

Goofs

Harry the tailor mispronounces a common term of his trade, "worsted". He pronounces it phonetically, but at least in British English it is correctly pronounced "woosted" with the "oo" as in "good". See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
MI.6 Handler: Panama.
Andrew 'Andy' Osnard: Panama?
MI.6 Handler: Best I could do Andrew. Under the circumstances, given your sins. They were baying for blood.
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Connections

References Casablanca (1942) See more »

Soundtracks

La Gallina Fina
Written by Christian Garcia
Performed by Samy Sandoval y Sandra Sandoval
Courtesy of SSS Records
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User Reviews

unsatisfying but worthwhile venture
16 January 2002 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

In `The Tailor of Panama,' Pierce Brosnan plays a sort of evil version of his James Bond persona, a womanizing British spy more concerned with his own personal aggrandizement than with duty to queen and crown and all those virtues we, parochially, tend to think of as uniquely `Western' - virtues like liberty, freedom and democracy.

Based on John Le Carre's novel of the same name, `The Tailor of Panama' is not quite so positive in its assessment of the West's innate benevolence. It is, in fact, an attack on the evils of the modern nation-building process, wherein developed countries like the United States and Great Britain engage in all sorts of covert skullduggery in an effort to protect their own strategic interests in the Third World community. If this involves propping up or installing immoral regimes - or toppling potentially moral ones - that, as Le Carre sees it, is all part of the game we naively call `international diplomacy.'

The setting of the film is Panama City right after the takeover of the canal by the Panamanians. Fearful that its interests might soon be threatened, the British government sends one of its own secret agents, Andy Osnard, to ferret out some British citizen who may have contacts with the authorities in the city and may, therefore, be privy to information pertinent to their concerns. Andy alights on Harry Pendel, a good-natured, idealistic tailor who does, indeed, seem to have some entree with the higher-ups in the local government. Harry also happens to be married to Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis), who actually works supervising the canal, so, of course, Harry can be quite an informative source of information if he happens to put his mind to it. Andy, knowing that Harry has a few major debts to pay off, moves in for the kill and engages Harry's efforts. The only problem is that Harry, beyond being impeccably moral, also loves to spin a fantastic yarn or two, and Andy has to figure out whether the information Harry is feeding him is really the truth or just the product of an overactive imagination.

The complexity of the plotting works both for and against the film. On the one hand, the audience has a fun time following the narrative along its complicated mazelike path, meeting interesting people and visiting unusual sites along the way. Moreover, we are afforded a fascinating glimpse into the sleazy world of backstage nation-building in a so-called `Banana Republic.' On the other hand, we often find ourselves a bit confused as to the why and wherefore of many of the actions, and, far worse, the movie never establishes enough of a quality of credibility to make us believe it all. This is certainly the case in the film's final stretches when the too-easily duped U.S. and British governments launch an all-out attack on the city based on only the flimsiest of evidence. Yet, perhaps, that is Le Carre (and director John Boorman's) thesis: that such takeovers are often rooted in causes that are circumstantial, prefabricated or totally beside the point. If this is the case, both the writer and the director have failed to create the tone necessary to pull off such a sophisticated idea. For, although there are flashes of sharp humor shot throughout the entire film, the general ambience is never far-out and witty enough for us to classify the work as satirical. As a result, the final scenes seem somehow more silly than provocative.

This is not, however, to suggest that `The Tailor of Panama' is not a worthwhile and interesting film. In fact, it succeeds almost on the strength of its performances alone. Brosnan does a superb job poking fun at his signature spy persona, as he utilizes his trademark suavity to get exactly what he wants - be it information, a load of cash, or a roll in the hay with a gorgeous female companion. As the title character, Geoffrey Rush delivers yet another outstanding performance, somehow managing to make Harry seem both incredibly weak and amazingly strong at the same time. In fact, Rush, quite literally, carries this film, earning the audience's sympathy from beginning to end. Curtis turns in her usual fine performance, although her role seems a bit undernourished compared to those of the two male leads.

`The Tailor of Panama,' although ultimately unsatisfying, comes pretty damn close to being a worthwhile success.


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