Rachel Griffiths, Jason Isaacs & Laura Fraser
- British Independent Film Award 1998: Nominated for Best British Actor.
At the beginning of the film, Northern Irish columnist Dan Starkey
and American journalist Charles Parker are sent out to cover the upcoming elections, in which the charismatic, former victim of the war, Michael Brinn seems the obvious winner, campaigning on a platform of disarmament and peace between the warring factions in Northern Ireland. Starkey
, however, is not impressed with Brinn's promises, believing he has heard it from politicians before.
Before this, however, Starkey
is caught cheating on his wife Patricia with a young art student named Margaret. Patricia goes to her parents' house to get some time away, while Starkey
keeps seeing Margaret. While at Margaret's, Starkey
receives a tape of classic composers from her. He also makes the startling discovery that Margaret's former boyfriend is the feared terrorist Patrick "Cow Pat" Keegan. Later, when Starkey
returns to Margaret's apartment after having bought pizza, he finds Margaret dying, bloody and molested. Her final words are divorce and Jack. Starkey
then hears the front door open. He runs out to attack the intruder, thinking it is the murderer returning. The result is that he kicks Margaret's mother, who had come by to visit, down the stairs, killing her.
The next day, Starkey
and Parker visit Brinn for an exclusive interview. While at Brinn's residence, it is revealed that Margaret is the daughter of an old friend of Brinn, a man who is also a prominent politician in Brinn's party. Starkey
and Parker leave, but are attacked by Protestant Paramilitary on the way. Starkey
explains it as a random act of violence, but Parker begins to suspect something is not right.
Later, when Starkey
attempts to call Patricia, he hears her being kidnapped on the other end of the line. When the police suspect Starkey
for the murder of Margaret and her mother, as well as the kidnapping of Patricia, Starkey
is forced to tell the entire story to Parker. Parker reluctantly agrees to help Starkey
After some research, Parker finds out that Margaret had an old friend named Jack, and that this man might be the Jack Margaret talked about as she died. Starkey
goes to visit him, only to find that he is a dead end. Starkey
also gets himself shot at by paramilitaries that night, but he is saved by Lee Cooper, a nurse-by-day, stripper-by-night. While Starkey
is at Cooper's apartment, she plays a piece of classic music, by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (pronounced Dvor-zhack). Starkey
realises that Margaret's last words were not divorce Jack, but rather an attempt to say the name of the composer on the tape Starkey had been given earlier, a tape that he had now sold to a street-vendor.
Following this, Starkey
goes to a restaurant to meet Parker. However, it turns out that Parker has been held hostage by Keegan and his goons, and that the meeting was set up to trap Starkey
and Parker are taken to an old warehouse, where Keegan threatens to kill Parker unless Starkey
hands over the tape. Since Starkey
does not have the tape, Keegan kills Parker. Keegan then threatens to kill Starkey
's wife Patricia, who had been kidnapped by him earlier, unless Starkey
can give him the tape. Starkey
then reveals that he had the tape, but that he sold it to a street-vendor. This does not seem to be satisfactory for Keegan, but luckily for Starkey
, his wife and him are saved in the last minute by Cooper, who storms in dressed as a nun wearing guns.
goes to the street-vendor to find the tape, only to find that it has been sold to a priest. Starkey
goes to visit the priest, listens to the tape with him, and finds that it is a recording of Brinn admitting to having planted the bombs in the terrorist attack he claims to have been a victim of. Starkey
mails the tape to Margaret's apartment, before he is again taken by Keegan's goons. Keegan orders Starkey
to take the tape to a valley where Brinn will pay a ransom to have the tape delivered to him. The next morning, Keegan, Brinn, and Starkey
meet. Keegan gives Brinn the tape in a tape recorder, while Brinn hands over the money in a briefcase. As the two drive away, Starkey
is left to see them both get blown up. The tape recorder and the briefcase were both rigged with explosives.
The movie ends with a British civil servant urging Starkey
not to print his story, fearing for the consequences if the truth about Brinn gets out. Starkey
, however, decides to print his story anyway.