Rag Tale Review

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The life of scandal-driven tabloid The Rag is turned upside down when the affair between editor Eddy Taylor (Graves) and deputy editor/publisher’s wife M.J. (Jason Leigh) threatens to become front-page news. Eddy marshals his team to mount a counter-attac


A hotbed of vice and intrigue, populated by colourful, sharp characters, the world of Brit scandal rags has long been ripe for a movie edition. Largely improvised by a good cast, Mary McGuckian’s film tries to forge these elements into a hip satire on tabloid tenacity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite carry it off.

The movie works better in its first half as a trashy soap opera of editorial idea-spinning (watching jaded hacks conjure up plans to revamp Buckingham Palace is terrific fun) and office politics (secretaries listening in on Eddy/M.J.’s saucy antics is priceless) rather than as a searing indictment of the tabloid mentality.

In its second half, where Eddy employs a digital daredevil (the always reliable Ian Hart) to doctor incriminating evidence of M.J. in a drug scandal, the plot machinations take over, building to a denouement that borders on the ludicrous.

Presumably an attempt to replicate the energy of a hectic newsroom, McGuckian’s handheld, constantly roving camera and rapid-fire editing is NYPD Blue to the nth degree. Yet the effect is distancing, denying involvement and identification with the characters. You can’t escape the feeling that it would have been a much more attractive proposition if the film had confidence in the premise and the milieu.

A lively set-up and talented cast are scooped by overwrought plotting and over-overwrought style.