Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Crying Game (1992)


This is one of those films that it seems most everyone knows about, not to mention that it sports one of the infamous and most talked about twists in the history of film. However, since someone who reads this might not have seen it or be aware of the twist, I'll refrain from discussing it specifically.

However, I think one of the most noteworthy aspect of the twist is that, with most films, using a device like a surprise twist has almost become a gimmick, and once you know the twist, the movie doesn't quite hold up as well. (M. Night Shyamalan, I'm looking squarely in your direction, Mr. One-Trick Pony.) However, what elevates The Crying Game above so many other films that employ the surprise twist is that even after you know what the twist is, this film still holds up, an it's still really friggin' brilliant.

I also hold some personal reasons for treasuring this film like I do. I had the benefit of seeing it opening night, on Christmas evening 1992. I really had no awareness of what was to follow other that it had amazing reviews. I went with my parents to see this one, as I was only 15 and couldn't get in on my own. For all the shit you give your parents at that age, I always did appreciate their willingness to foster my little hobby.

But, all that aside, I really credit The Crying Game for turning me into the cinephile I've become. I recall walking out of that theater, not only feeling that exhilaration you get (or at least that I get) when you've just left an amazing film, but I was also left with this feeling that okay, now THAT is what film can be. It made me curious about what else was out there. It made me abandon all interest in seeing all the bullshit that gets released and seeking out the smaller independent films that I never really showed much interest in before. Had I not seen it under those circumstances, I don't know that I would have sought out so many of the amazing films that I've since discovered.

While Neil Jordan remains somewhat of a hit-or-miss director, when he's on, he's really quite good. Mona Lisa, The End of the Affair, and Breakfast on Pluto are some others that I particularly enjoy (and I do owe The Butcher Boy a revisit). With Mona Lisa, it's particularly interesting, since watching it now, it almost seems like a blueprint of what was to follow 6 years later with The Crying Game. Rather than having another director come along and recycle the same story, he took his own film and perfected it.

The film really can be divided into two halves. In the first half, we see Fergus as kind of a fuck-up within a small sect of the IRA, and his forging a relationship with a kidnapped British soldier, Jody (Forrest Whitaker), and then the second half is when he disappears, abandoning the IRA, and reemerges in London with a new life as Jimmy, who seeks out Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson), and embarks on a relationship with her, albeit, a very unusual one. When the two worlds collide, the film kicks into high gear and becomes fascinating and unpredictable.

I don't know that there's much else to say here. This film has been discussed to death, and I don't know that I can add anything particularly insightful that hasn't already been said countless times before. But beyond being just a fantastic film, it's a film that will always hold a special place for me.

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