Shiny Shelf

Divorcing Jack

By Mark Clapham on 08 November 2002

OK, this BBC Films/Film Four thing is getting beyond a joke. While US television gets more and more cinematic, the BBC and Channel Four are taking anything with the slightest hint of a budget and passing it off as a movie. Take this week’s budget DVD release of BBC Films’ ‘Divorcing Jack’. It’s not a bad little tale of political intrigue in a near-future Belfast, a satirical thriller sharply adapted from his debut novel by Colin Bateman (Ulster’s answer to Christopher Brookmyre, folks). But it’s an upscale TV movie, nothing more, and it’s cinematic release in 1998 was a bad joke.

OK, getting away from the film’s exaggerated sense of its own worth, let’s look at it on it’s own. David Thewlis adopts his well-worn but efficient waspish persona as Starkey, Bateman’s journalist hero, while eye candy Laura Fraser is the femme-fatality plot device who drags him into the plot. Of the rest of the cast, you can’t go far wrong with Robert Lindsay playing a Blair-ite politician. As a Sunday night drama, this would be great. But, arcing inevitably back into my main point, the damn thing is pretending to be cinema!

Having said that, this is a budget DVD release, so if you fancy a bleak but funny look at the political landscape of Northern Ireland, or if you’re some kind of mad Thewlis completist, then this is a sound, inexpensive purchase. The rest of you can catch it next time it appears on TV – where it belongs.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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