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Crying Game, The (1992) * Favorite Review *

 

This poster husts my soul
This poster hurts my soul

Genre: Thriller (UK, Japan)

Starring: Stephen Rea (FeardotcomV For Vendetta), Jaye Davidson (Stargate)

Directed By: Neil Jordan (Breakfast on Pluto  • The Butcher Boy)

Overview: When a soldier kidnapped by the Irish Republican Army faces possible execution, he asks his captor, Fergus, to protect his girlfriend should it end badly. Fergus enters Dil's life in hopes of keeping that promise.

Warning: There's a dick-load of mid-film twist spoilers in this one.

The Crying Game is one of those movies, at least in my experience, where everyone knows the 'big twist'. Soylent Green, "Luke, I am Your Father", and Citizen Kane's Rosebud are about as 'iconic spoiler' fodder as the twist revealed in The Crying Game. You may all remember how Gene Siskel of "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies" gloriously divulged the fact that Dil was a man in an Oscar special in 1993. I recall the outrage, and at the same time, I remember the argument that "the movie isn't about that. The fact that Dil is a man is secondary to the plot. It's not a spoiled ending, just a spoiled twist in the middle." Well kiddies, I can tell you that after having seen The Crying Game for the first and last time, it's obvious to me that the entire film is nothing but a set up and follow-through of those three fateful seconds where Dil waggles her fruit bowl and Dil-weed in Fergus' incredulous face. Yes kiddies, rather than talking about the 'tenderly sensual film complete with break-neck action' that is The Crying Game, I'd rather talk about the truth, namely the intense audience manipulation leading up to and stemming from Fergus nearly getting a mouthful of Peter and Dil's pickled peppers.

Tears, like, of a clownThe jism of the story stems around the kidnapping of a soldier. Fearing the worst, the kidnapped Jody asks Fergus, the head guard, to protect his girlfriend should he get screwed. When the situations goes nuts, Fergus escapes, trannyforms his name to Jimmy, finds Dil and falls for her. With people hot on his tail, he realizes that he needs to protect Dil from the past that will catch up to him.

Before the famed appearance of Blacksnake and the Harry Nutz brothers, one telling hint is dropped by kidnapped soldier Jody.  "[The woman who seduced me today] isn't really my type," says Forest Whitaker as he shows Fergus a photo of himself with Dil.

Later when Fergus first sees Dil in the bar, she performs a song about as gay as any nut-tucked Queen would ever sing, flailing her arm about awkwardly. I watched intently, expecting to see other drag queens in the bar or at least a gay man, but no visual clue is revealed. Later Fergus snakes his hand up Dil's skirt as they make out, and she promptly takes his hand away.

A couple dates later and Dil invites Fergus back to her place, and with Fergus poised for Minnie's clam bake, he is instead introduced to Willie and the Steamboats. After some flipping out and light yarking, Fergus, feeling badly, returns to the bar to apologize.

The worst kind of filmic manipulation happens in the following bar scene. Instead of the bar we've seen before, full of beautiful women and everyday folk, we're shown a carnival ride of horror. As we pan through the place, cheap blond wigs sit atop five o'clock shadowed patrons in gold lammé and men shriek wildly all while acting like overripe fruits.

 
Terrifying.
 
Yes, I understand that this is the director's way of showing the shift in perspective but going so completely from classy pub to ratty tranny bar is one of those unfair displays that forces the audience into a mindset of fact rather than leaving lightly-clued scenes to chance. Showing the audience that the character's perception is mildly skewed is a far sneakier way of setting up a fall than what director Neil Jordan chose to display. Rather than leaving opportunity for the audience to perceive something before our sexually confused hero does, he ensures that we are as surprised as Fergus. Aye, but there's the rub. The ruse must therefore be complete.  I recall in 1992, when I first saw a clip from this film, knowing nothing about it, and thinking to myself, "Why is that man dressed like a woman?"  The mystery revealed itself to me in the first close-up. Talk about bad casting.

Did I mention the Title Song was covered by Boy George? GOD! HOW OBVIOUS CAN ONE GET?!
Did I mention the Title Song was covered by Boy George? GOD! HOW OBVIOUS CAN ONE GET?!
 

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 7 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 5

Overall Rating: 66% (Tears Will Indeed Spring)
Aftertaste:

In a film where the storyline is book ended by I.R.A. terrorist plots, you'd think there'd be a touch more action. I would go so far as to say that the action scene just before the climax was overall a boringly rote one and poorly imagined. Clearly the plot is the love angle, and everything else around it merely filler. In short, Ebert was right in getting mad at Siskel for ruining the twist, because without it, the movie is nothing more than an interesting first act.

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