The Crying Game

Here’s another previously unseen review from The Movie Critic: Book One, my thankfully unpublished compendium of dreadful, first-draft reviews.  Like Scent Of A Woman, this version is quite different from the sloppily written original.  The introduction has been replaced with a line found further along in the piece, the plot summary has been tightened up considerably, my comments on the acting have been expanded a bit and the ending is much stronger.
I screened The Crying Game for the first time at the Centre Mall Cinemas not too long after it received several Oscar nominations, all richly deserved, in the early winter of 1993.  (Writer-Director Neil Jordan won the only trophy for his original screenplay.)  The film won me over so emphatically, I saw it again.  Later that summer, I rented it on tape from a local Blockbuster store.  It remains one of the great films of the 1990s.
Adult Accompaniment
112 minutes, 1992
Stephen Rea–Fergus/Jimmy
Miranda Richardson–Judy
Forest Whitaker–Jody
Jaye Davidson–Dil
Adrian Dunbar–Peter
Produced by Stephen Woolley
Screenplay by Neil Jordan
Music by Anne Dudley
Directed by Neil Jordan
The Crying Game opens in an Irish amusement park where we discover a young British black man (Forest Whitaker) enjoying himself with a white Irish woman (Miranda Richardson).  It’s a pivotal scene for two key reasons: 1. It sets up the first half of the movie, and 2. It immediately underscores the film’s tone of sly deception.  This is one of the best films of 1992.
What that man doesn’t know at first is that that woman who appears to like his company is really an IRA terrorist.  Furthermore, he’s been specifically targetted for kidnapping.  With the help of fellow conspirators, Fergus (Stephen Rea), Peter (Adrian Pasdar) and Judy (Miranda Richardson), Whitaker’s character, Jody, a member of the British military, is essentially a bargaining chip.  He’s taken hostage and whisked away to a secluded location, his head covered with a dark hood.  The plan is to make an exchange for some of their captive colleagues.  If there’s a refusal to release them within three days, Jody will be assassinated.
In the meantime, Fergus strikes up an unlikely friendship with Jody.  Finding it hard to breathe with that hood over his face, the big man begs for it to be removed.  Fergus obliges.  They talk and even share some laughs.  Jody talks about his girlfriend and shows him her pic.  The already spoken-for Fergus (he’s involved with Judy) is intrigued.  Sensing the inevitable, Jody asks a favour of him.  He wants him to look after her in London.
As the deadline grows closer, hope for a peaceful resolution to this crisis becomes very dim.  When it passes, Peter gives the order to Fergus to execute their hostage.  But he can’t do it.  He made the mistake of befriending Jody and now his emotions are interfering with his job.  Disaster strikes and Fergus flees to London, hoping to leave his terrorist days behind for good.  He changes his name to Jimmy and gets a new job working construction.
Jimmy becomes instantly enamoured of Dil (an excellent performance by Jaye Davidson), Jody’s girl, who is a hairdresser during the day and at night, sings in a local bar.  While going to see her perform one night, the bartender (Jim Broadbent) is on the verge of revealing her shocking secret to Jimmy, but he’s interrupted by her timely appearance on stage.
When Jimmy finds out the hard way that there’s more to Dil than he realized, he gets sick to his stomach.  He’s completely bewildered by the revelation.  Meanwhile, his old cronies, including ex-lover Judy, have caught up to him.
Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game is a brilliant and consistently surprising film that tests the boundaries of both love and loyalty.  It is sharply directed and exquisitely plotted by the Irish filmmaker who was nominated for two Academy Awards in those areas of achievement.  He is deserving of the recognition.
I enjoyed all the crucial performances in the movie, as well.  Stephen Rea is masterful as the unlikely hero, Fergus, a character who is easily distracted by friendship and love.  Miranda Richardson, a wonderful actress, is an icy villainess.  She is impressive.  Forest Whitaker is terrific as the doomed hostage.  He earns our empathy with his charm.  His accent is spot-on, too.  And what can you say about supporting nominee, Jaye Davidson?  Could anyone else have pulled off such a magnificent feat of acting?
Films this surprising and this astounding are not made very often.  But they should be treasured, nonetheless.  The two stories at the heart of The Crying Game are both incredibly riveting.  Not once do they become cliched or monotonous.  If only every movie were as great as this one.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, May 17, 2008
1:55 a.m.
Published in: on May 17, 2008 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment  

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