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Film / The Tailor of Panama

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The Tailor of Panama is a 2001 film directed by John Boorman and starring Geoffrey Rush, Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Catherine Mac Cormack and Brendan Gleeson. It is adapted from a novel by John le Carré.

It follows the stories of British ex-pat in Panama, Harry Pendel (Rush), and the British MI-6 agent who blackmails him, Andy Osnard (Brosnan).

9-year-old Daniel Radcliffe made his film debut playing the son of Geoffrey Rush's character.


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This film contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Mickie.
  • Attempted Rape: Osnard forces himself on Curtis's character when she comes to confront him about the out-of-control mess he and Harry have created; fortunately she manages to fight him off.
  • Batman Gambit: Andy's plan that Harry will go on with the lies.
  • Binocular Shot: Used when Andy spies on Harry in the beginning.
  • Blatant Lies: Part of Harry and Andy's game.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The US gives MI-6 briefcases with 15 million dollars for the opposition. Andy Osnard steals them in the end.
  • The Casanova: Andy Osnard is a classic example of this, with results ranging from very positive to tongue-biting rejection.
  • The Chessmaster: Osnard. An important point in the film is that Osnard is perfectly aware that everything Harry tells him is fabrication. It is part of his plan.
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  • Dark and Troubled Past: Harry's original weakness: he took part in his Uncle Benny insurance scam and went to jail for it. His wife doesn't know. Andy Osnard's expert exploitation gets the plot rolling between these two.
  • Flashback: A flashback shows what happened to Marta's face.
  • Funny Background Event: When discussing in the brothel, you can see a woman riding a man in the background.
  • General Ripper: An American general is delighted to hear that he has a chance to invade Panama again.
  • Good Parents: Harry and his wife are these - thus enhancing the many Pet the Dog moments that let us know how nice a guy Harry is.
  • Imaginary Friend: Harry imagines that his late uncle Benny talks to him.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: When discussing who is buying the canal in the brothel, Harry mentions the Chinese by seeing Asian porn movie. Andy asks which one, Taiwanese, Chinese. Harry replies "Both" when he sees two Asian girls playing with each other.
  • Karma Houdini: The movie ends with Panama in total chaos, with Andy fleeing carrying a suitcase full of money and Harry happily cooking his family breakfast.
  • La Résistance: Harry, Marta, and Mickie Abraxas. In Harry's mind, at least.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Downplayed with Jamie Lee Curtis, with a couple of glimpses of her breasts a couple of times in the film.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harry lecturing his customers.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Andy Osnard was sent to Panama as a banishment after having an affair with the Foreign Minister's mistress.
  • Recycled In Space: As le Carre acknowledged, this is basically an updated version of the Graham Greene novel Our Man in Havana, brought up-to-date and set in a different country.
  • Retargeted Lust: a married woman has tense and increasingly sexy banter with the spy who may be endangering her husband. After he leaves, she has sex with her husband and he with his new girlfriend.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At some point, Harry wants to stop : "I want out!". But it's too late.
  • Shoutout:
    • Harry's daughter must learn The Tyger, a poem by William Blake.
    • Harry tells Andy Osnard that Panama is a "Casablanca" without heroes.
  • Snowball Lie: Harry's lies about the silent opposition and about a possible deal to sell the canal are repeated by Andy Osnard because they fit his plans. MI-6 and the US buy it. The US even sends money for the opposition and an army to invade Panama.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Both Andy and Harry play this game, but it manages to get out of their control when the British and U.S. governments get involved.
    • It was Andy's plan all along. He's just afraid to be too late, when he sees US troops invading Panama (again).

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