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The Crying Game

December 20, 2015

The Crying Game (1992)
Director: Neil Jordan
Actors: Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker

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Synopsis: Fergus (Stephen Rea) absconds to London after his part in a botched IRA kidnap of English soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker) – who was accidentally run over trying to escape. Fergus meets Jody’s old flame, Dil (Jaye Davidson), but Dil’s own secret, plus Fergus’ IRA past catching up with him, threaten to upset his new found ‘harmony’.

Review: Maybe back in 1992, this film’s quirky cocktail of a Troubles plot hook alongside the unlikeliest of love stories (replete with huge ‘twist’) seemed novel and captured the media buzz at the time, but with twenty years’ perspective, it really does seem an irretrievably ropey and dated melodrama, hamstrung by any number of strange elements: dodgy casting (Miranda Richardson as an IRA terrorist? Jim Broadbent as a cockney barman? Forest Whitaker as a English soldier?!), epically weird accents, and a very unbelievable, sentimental conceit to drive the narrative (that an IRA man would overly befriend one of the British servicemen he kidnaps, and would reject the most basic of kidnapper/prisoner protocol).

It’s probably the amateurish sense of melodrama that registers the most though. Some of the action scenes are very awkwardly staged (especially Jody’s attempted escape, and the subplot about Dil’s lover-cum-irritant, Dave), and the whole piece feels clunky and overly determined. We get no sense of what Fergus’ life is like when he moves to London; he’s just a cipher of the writer’s pen, designed to fall uncomplicatedly in love with Jody’s ex, Dil, but devoid of context, their initial attraction seems arbitrary. The apotheosis of unintentional hamminess comes in the scene where Fergus is getting a blowjob from Dil while a flashback takes us to an image of Jody (really badly incarnated by Forest Whitaker) unconvincingly slinging a bowling delivery in cricket whites!

One of the film’s saving graces is a certain cumulative charm projected by Dil and Fergus’ relationship, helped by a very warm and charismatic performance by Jaye Davidson. That said, is it just me or is the film’s famous ‘twist’ eminently guessable from the first scene that we meet Dil? (December 2015)

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