The Crying Game

1992, Movie, R, 112 mins

Review

CRYING GAME, THE
starstarstarstar
A perverse moral tale preaching the oldest of lessons--that love conquers all--THE CRYING GAME was helped by clever marketing to seduce an unexpectedly wide audience.

Fergus (Stephen Rea), an IRA foot soldier, is part of a small group led by ferocious idealogues Jude (Miranda Richardson) and Maguire (Adrian Dunbar). They kidnap a British soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker), in Northern Ireland and attempt to exchange him for a group of imprisoned IRA members. As the tense and exhausted comrades take turns guarding Jody, a tentative friendship forms between Fergus and the frightened captive. Aware of his colleagues' growing contempt for what they perceive to be a weakness on his part, Fergus pointedly accepts the task of killing their captive when it becomes apparent that British officials will not comply with their demands. As Fergus marches Jody into the woods at gunpoint, the prisoner gets away, only to run into a road and be run over by a British armored car. Fergus escapes, leaving Maguire and Jude trapped in a hail of gunfire.

Fergus flees Ireland and melts into London's underground of undocumented Irish workers. Haunted by the memory of Jody, he looks up the dead man's lover, Dil (Jaye Davidson). Alternately seductive and petulant, desperately needy and infuriatingly aloof, Dil soon has Fergus bewitched. But Fergus is tormented by his past and, as their relationship grows ever more intimate, tortured by the fact that he has an entire other life of which she is unaware. Still, it's Fergus who's in for the biggest shock, when he learns Dil has an even more surprising secret. Things are further complicated by the unexpected re-appearance of Jude and Maguire, who insist Fergus help them with one last assassination.

THE CRYING GAME's audacity is remarkable, and extends far beyond its "controversial" subject matter. In fact, its utter belief in the power of love to overcome all obstacles may be its boldest conceit. While a conventional Hollywood romance pretends to place roadblocks in the paths of its lovers, THE CRYING GAME presents Dil and Fergus with a real dilemma and refuses to opt for the easy ending.

Thematic issues aside, THE CRYING GAME pulls off a tremendously difficult technical feat; its screenplay contains not one, but two, wrenching twists, each of which could easily derail the narrative in the hands of a lesser storyteller. Viewers are introduced to the story of Fergus's growing friendship with the captive and doomed Jody, then have the rug pulled out from under them when Jody dies barely a third of the way into the film. Fergus's relationship with Dil seems to be proceeding along conventional lines until the moment of revelation, at which point the average film would consider it had done its job and bring things to a swift close. But THE CRYING GAME keeps on going, patiently playing its story out to its appointed, ironic end. leave a comment

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