Directed by Mary McGuckian, starring Rupert Graves, Malcolm McDowell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bill Paterson, Ian Hart, Lucy Davis, Sarah Stockbridge, Simon Callow and Kerry Fox.
The world of the British tabloid newspaper is finally exposed on the big screen as Irish director Mary McGuckian brings us through a week in the life of 'The Rag', with all of the office politics, royal vendettas and workplace affairs that this entails.
'Rag Tale' is enjoyable, but you can't help feeling that McGuckian has missed out by opting to employ the use of a shaky-camera style to give the movie a fly-on-the-wall, documentary feel. This is so extreme in places that anyone who experiences motion sickness should seriously think twice about going to see this movie.
The story begins in the elevator of the newspaper building where we are greeted with Editor Eddy Taylor (Graves) and his deputy Mary Josephine 'MJ' Morton (Jason Leigh) embracing romantically. The action moves to Taylor's office, where company Chairman Richard Morton (McDowell) asks him why he is having an affair with his wife and demanding that he end it immediately.
In the ensuing weekly editorial meeting there is a clear difference of views about the monarchy between the majority of the staff and the aforementioned MJ. With her husband in search of a knighthood, she favours changing the newspaper to a pro-monarchy title, while the rest of the staff thoroughly oppose this and prefer to continue their 'Camilla for Queen' campaign.
For the following week we witness the power struggle between the staff of the newspaper and the owners. It seems that it will only be a matter of time before Taylor is replaced in an act of nepotism. To try and gain the upper hand the staff employ the services of an ill-reputed tabloid photographer going by the name of Morph (Hart).
Morph, who is famed for digitally re-mastering photographs, gains access to the home of the Chairman and sets about his task of damaging Morton's good name and his hopes of receiving a knighthood.
There are many reasons why 'Rag Tale' fails to fulfil its potential but mainly it is the failure of the director to recognise the importance of the audience. The camera style never allows you to feel completely at ease with what is transpiring before you and there is a danger that some of the irony will be lost in confusion.
Other annoyances are the awful soundtrack, a number of below par acting performances and a very poor ending. Suffice to say that the unbelievable nature of the conclusion is such a major flaw that the story loses whatever semblance of reality that it had.
'Rag Tale' may have been better suited to the small screen where the audience would have been allowed sufficient time to adapt to the unusual camera style and the intricacies of the tabloid office relationships.