Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

15 October 1998 Edition

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Cinema: Divorced from reality

On some levels, Divorcing Jack, a black comedy set in Belfast, works well enough, and it has some genuinely hilarious moments, but its cop-out, two tribes mentality ultimately denies it credibility.

The scene is the Six Counties in 1999, now an independent state, although obviously independent with the emphasis on devolved. Michael Brinn (played by Robert Lindsay), who resembles a Tony Blair clone and is leader of the New Alliance Party, is the runaway favourite to be elected prime minister. The plot revolves around cynical hack Dan Starkey (played by David Thewlis), who has an affair with a young student he meets on a park bench and is unwillingly dragged into a bloody blackmail conspiracy after she is brutally murdered. En route, we meet corrupt UVF thugs, corrupt former IRA thugs, both sets now criminally inclined, and a plot to hush up the truth about the squeaky clean Mr Brinn's past.

As a run-of-the-mill gangster thriller played for black laughs, Divorcing Jack works OK, albeit that a major suspension of belief is required to find any credibility in the plot, even taking it at face value. As any kind of commentary on the post-conflict situation in Ireland, however, it is pure drivel. To quote actress Rachel Griffiths: ``What I loved about this film is that it doesn't try to find answers to what is going on in Northern Ireland. It just represents the chaos.'' In the end, this movie cannot help but preach, and it does so in the ``one set of bastards are as bad as the other'' vein so beloved of those who do not want to even try to understand.


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