Divorcing Jack (15)

Directed by David Caffrey
Starring David Thewlis, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Lindsay, Jason Isaacs

A slightly bizzare idea this, but a comedy/thriller set in Northern Ireland that has philandering drunken journalist Dan Starkey(Thewlis), get embroiled in murder and intrigue after a girl he slept with is murdered. On finding her, she gasps what sounds like "divorce Jack" to him, and so Starkey tries to uncover the truth. Along the way we meet charismatic prime ministerial candidate Michael Brinn(Lindsay), a Nun-o-gram nurse(Griffith), and an IRA hit squad.
The story is preposterous but engaging. However, the black comedy goes too far at times. Characters are introduced then casually and brutally killed, Starkey is surely an ancient cliche of a journalist- scruffy, drunk, unfaithful etc. If there were some left like him they surely would be out of work by now. The title refers to a plot McGuffin that is dead obvious, a reference that surely all the audience would be shouting at Starkey- I won't give it away but it is obvious. Starkey is not a likeable character but has women throwing themselves at him left, right and centre, and colleagues ready to die for him. I have never been a huge David Thewlis fan. I find him irritating and arrogant. I was disappointed that there wasn't more of the other actors- Australian actress Rachel Griffith has been a favourite of mine since Muriel's Wedding, and does pretty well with her Northern Ireland accent here(as well as Thewlis and Lindsay anyway.) but we didn't see much of her. Robert Lindsay has become a much respected actor too, but his role, while crucial is poorly developed. A rather nice American journalist(don't know the actor) helps Jack and gets dropped off a building for his pains- one of those casual violent moments I disliked. Jason Isaacs is a perpetual baddie- he has the face for it and is suitably nasty.
This was very much a David Thewlis film, maybe because the script was written by the author of the original book. I think the author was too enamoured of his main character. However, the story bowls along quite briskly. If you ignore the daft parts of the plot it is quite diverting and it was intriguing to see a film set in Northern Ireland that wasn't about the Troubles. It is a mere backdrop. A small scale film that did little business but has more to offer than many US action movies. 6/10

October 1998

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