Director Mary McGuckian (Best) holds the front page up for observation and ridicule in Rag Tale, a highly entertaining British black comedy set in the murky world of tabloid journalism. Although the satire isn't quite clever enough to capture some of the antics that really go on in 'Fleet Street' - how can you satirise something like the Sunday Sport? - it's got some hilarious one-liners, winning performances (especially from Sara Stockbridge and John Sessions as cynical hacks) and an energetic visual style all its own.
The Rag is a scabrous tabloid whose editorial meetings always begin with the battle cry "Who are we going to get this week?" Editor Eddy Taylor (Rupert Graves) is wrestling with far more than just how the paper should cover the royal family, however. He's been having an affair with the assistant editor, MJ (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and her husband has just discovered about the dangerous liaison. The real problem for Eddy is that MJ's partner is also his boss, newspaper publisher Richard Morton (Malcolm McDowell). Eddy has to find a way of blackmailing Morton to safeguard his job; otherwise he's going to be yesterday's news.
"FAST-PACED ZING TO THE DIALOGUE"
There's a fast-paced zing about the dialogue in Rag Tale for the first hour that will have you howling with laughter. Things start to falter as things get serious, though, and Rag Tale feels overlong and repetitive towards the end. Still, there's more than enough sharp material here for you to look forward to the other two movies in McGuckian's planned trilogy of amorality tales; the second film, Funny Farm, will be set in a rehab clinic.