Divorcing Jack springs from the crazed writing brain of Irish novelist Colin Bateman, described as a cross between Roddy Doyle (The Van) and cult Miami writer Carl Hiassen (Skin Deep). And it's certainly very different from most films involving the Irish `Troubles'. This bizarre black comedy is a blend of political satire, love story and man-on-the-run thriller, complete with a pistol-packing nun stripogram (Griffiths), designer-suited terrorists and musically-choreographed shoot-outs. Familiar newsreel images of bomb-damaged Belfast are conspicuously absent.
This all makes Divorcing Jack an enticing prospect and, to its credit, it does boast several accomplished performances. The dishevelled, sardonic Thewlis is a compelling anti-hero, a flawed man who's thrown into a desperate situation and hoplessly tries to do the right thing. There's also strong support from both a vivacious Fraser and a super smooth Lindsay (as prime-ministerial candidate Michael Brinn).
The only problem is that first-time director Caffrey can't decide upon a consistent tone in his approach to the material. Instead there's a far too callous treatment of death which sits uncomfortably alongside the romance. Characters like Parker, Starkey's trusty American colleague, and Margaret's mother, are brutally murdered, then swiftly and conveniently forgotten. Consequently, the tragic dimension to these events is ignored as we're rushed along to the next oddball set-piece.
But there are still plenty of laughs, with several strange cameos spicing up the action. It's just a shame that, unlike all the best black comedies (take Kubrick's Dr Strangelove), Divorcing Jack has difficulty balancing humour with drama and opts for a conventionally romantic ending.
A black comedy-cum-thriller which amuses in an offbeat kind of way. While the violent swings in tone are a little off-putting, Divorcing Jack delivers laughs and suspense in equal measures, yielding a superb performance from Thewlis.
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