Blog Directory CineVerse: I know all there is to know about the crying game...

I know all there is to know about the crying game...

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Not many motion pictures take as many left turns as Neal Jordan's "The Crying Game" from 1992, which starts out as a political thriller, shifts into a strange love story, then meshes these two elements into a gripping third act. Of course, there's a shocking twist along the way (SPOILER! Dil, a love interest of the main protagonist, is revealed to be transgender) that created much buzz and controversy 26 years ago. The film still has the power to provoke robust thought and discussion, as shown last night at CineVerse. Here's a summary of our talking points:


  • The film turns in different directions that you don’t see coming. Consider that the first third leads you to believe this will be a gripping political thriller. But after 30 minutes, the focus shifts to more of a mystery/love story. 
  • We come to identify more with a character we didn’t expect we would as the movie progresses. In this way, and others, this film is like Hitchcock’s “Psycho”; recall how in that film, the main character, Marion, was killed halfway through the movie and then we are forced to identify with Norman Bates. 
    • According to Roger Ebert: “Jordan's wonderful film does what Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960), a very different film, also did: It involves us deeply in its story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether. We may have been fooled, but so was the hero, and as the plot reveals itself we find ourselves identifying more and more with him.” 
  • The film plays with gender roles and gender expectations in many ways. Think about how the female love interest is actually not the top-billed actress Miranda Richardson – instead, it’s a person who’s either a transvestite or a transgender woman. Ponder, as well, how some characters names are often associated with the opposite gender, like Jude and Jody. 
  • The movie also defies casting expectations. The filmmakers cast a Brit (Miranda Richardson) to portray an Irishwoman and an American (Forest Whitaker) to portray a Brit. 
  • Jaye Davidson, who plays Dil, doesn’t let the character become a stereotype. If you’ve not previously seen the movie or heard anyone talk about it, it’s likely that you, along with the vast majority of folks who first saw the movie in 1992, don’t guess prematurely that Dil is not who she appears to be. 
    • “Jordan never allows Davidson to be portrayed as an absurdist caricature, as characters in cross-dressing films such as Some Like it Hot or Tootsie often are. Davidson may be dark humored, witty and ironic, but never farcical. His inscrutability is convincing enough so the character’s gender shifts (from feminine to masculine then back to feminine) are each persuasive, layering the character’s many dimensions,” wrote essayist Brian Eggert at the Deep Focus Review. 
  • The picture could be seen as a pro-IRA statement, which caused controversy at the time. Director Neil Jordan tried to defuse these criticisms by saying:” “The IRA has done terrible things. But what’s important about the way the film approaches that reality is that they’ve become people they didn’t want to be. That doesn’t mean the cause is wrong.” 
  • People stay true to their natures, as echoed in the story of the scorpion and frog. 
  • Things are not what they seem, people are often not who they appear to be, and life is unpredictable. Recall Dil’s quote: “Funny the way things go, never the way you expect them.” 
  • Love transcends the boundaries of gender, race and politics. 
  • A bizarre love triangle in which one third of the triangle is dead. Triangles are also a motif in the film: Fergus, Dil and Jody; Fergus, Dil and the bartender; Fergus, Dil and her bald boyfriend; Fergus, Jody and Jude; and Fergus, Dil and Jude. 
  • The quest for redemption 
  • While many other films have surprise twists, there are actually very few movies like The Crying Game – which supports the notion that this is a one-of-a-kind original film with few imitators 
  • Vertigo and Psycho 
  • Boys Don’t Cry 
  • The Company of Wolves 
  • Mona Lisa 
  • Interview with the Vampire 
  • Michael Collins 
  • The End of the Affair

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