Film: The Crying Game

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Film:

The Crying Game

Director: Neil Jordan
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Live / Artisan

The Crying Game offers a rare and precious movie experience. The film is an unclassifiable original that surprises, intrigues, confounds, and delights you with its freshness, humor, and honesty from beginning to end. It starts as a psychological thriller, as IRA foot soldier Fergus (the incomparable Stephen Rea) kidnaps a British soldier (Forest Whitaker) and waits for the news that will determine whether he executes his victim or sets him free. As the night wears on, a peculiar bond begins to form between the two men. Later, the movie shifts tone and…

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The Crying Game offers a rare and precious movie experience. The film is an unclassifiable original that surprises, intrigues, confounds, and delights you with its freshness, humor, and honesty from beginning to end. It starts as a psychological thriller, as IRA foot soldier Fergus (the incomparable Stephen Rea) kidnaps a British soldier (Forest Whitaker) and waits for the news that will determine whether he executes his victim or sets him free. As the night wears on, a peculiar bond begins to form between the two men. Later, the movie shifts tone and morphs into something of a romantic comedy as Fergus unexpectedly becomes involved with the soldier’s girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) and discovers more about himself, and human nature in general, than he ever dreamed possible. Like Spielberg’s E.T., The Crying Game was supposed to be director Neil Jordan’s “little, personal movie,” the one he just had to make, even though no studio was willing to give him money because the story was so unusual. Instead, it became a surprise popular sensation, thanks in part to Miramax’s cleverly provocative campaign playing up the hush-hush nature of the movie’s big secret. The performances (including Miranda Richardson as one of Fergus’s IRA colleagues) are subtly shaded, and the writing and direction are tantalizingly rich and suggestive; you’re always trying to figure out the characters’ true motives and feelings—even when they themselves are fully aware of their own motives and feelings. The Crying Game is a wise, witty, wondrous treasure of a movie. Director Jordan’s credits include Mona Lisa, Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, and The Butcher Boy. —Jim Emerson

An IRA film with a difference, Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game takes the Anglo-Irish conflict as the starting point for a thoughtful, often poignant and sometimes humorous examination of gender and identity. Stephen Rea is the IRA volunteer who befriends a kidnapped British soldier (the gauche but likeable Forest Whitaker), then takes the questions of loyalty and instinct (the “frog and scorpion” fable) with him to London, where he falls for the dead man’s girlfriend (the appealing Jaye Davidson). Love and terrorism are fused in a violent and suspenseful denouement, where truth manifests itself in an unexpected yet meaningful way.

Miranda Richardson and Adrian Dunbar are persuasive as the IRA agents, and there are excellent cameos from Jim Broadbent as an East End barman and Tony Slattery as a property shark, all making the most of Jordan’s stylish, Academy Award-winning script. Anne (Art of Noise) Dudley contributes a moodily atmospheric score, with three versions of “When a Man Loves a Woman” to point up the gender issue. —Richard Whitehouse

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