The Crying Game Review
The Crying Game opens at a funfair – happy, cheerful and carefree. In other words, not very representative of the film you're about to watch as you launch into it. In fact, the opening scene leads to a British soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker), being taken hostage by an IRA cell. Blindfolded and terrified, he starts to form a bond with one of his kidnappers, Fergus (Stephen Rea). The other terrorists in the cell, especially Jude (Miranda Richardson) and Maguire (Adrian Dunbar) highly disapprove of Fergus chatting with their hostage, but even this disapproval cannot halt the nascent friendship in adversity between the two men.
After the kidnapping episode is over (and no, I don't think it's a good thing to say how it plays out exactly – for that, watch the film), Fergus seeks out a new life in London – under the name Jimmy. Taking a construction job and becoming the brunt of many Irish jokes, he settles in and looks for Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) who he has heard a lot about. But things are never that simple, and the second segment of the film is an emotional journey for both Fergus and Dil.
After that, the film's pace changes again, as the terrorist cell track down Fergus once more and hand him another assignment, to be carried out in London. As Fergus realises he cannot escape his past with the IRA despite his best efforts to hole up and hide away in London, it's time for him to make some real life choices.
The Crying Game is really two films in one, the plot with the IRA and the plot with Dil forming separate stories. While each of these might have been able to sustain a film alone, together they add an interesting juxtaposition so we can explore more than one facet of Fergus' personality, life and dilemma. I did find that it led to some pacing problems, however, as the story dictates pace changes that don't feel as natural as they should.
Directed and written by Neil Jordan, it explores the themes we see in many of his films – romance, tragedy, real people in strange situations. The film is written from Fergus' point of view, something that allows the audience to learn things as Fergus does, and to follow Stephen Rea's masterful underplayed acting throughout the film. In fact, all of the actors do a sterling job, as you might expect from glancing down the cast list. The writing is humane and interesting and the story works. Certainly there are more thrilling terrorist-action films, as well as films which examine these particular emotions more fully. It's in bringing these two disparate aspects together that makes The Crying Game special.
Oh, and yes, there are surprises in there, and a few twists and turns of the plot – but hey, you'll have to watch it to find them out. (Avoiding spoilers now may seem a bit futile after all the media attention the film received when it was first released in 1992 – not least because it received Oscar nominations which flung it directly under the spotlight – but I'd rather operate on the assumption that some readers may not have got around to seeing it.)
The transfer is fine, with little artifacting to distract from the main action. The tones of skin and colours work well together, standing out and reflecting nuances of shade, overall a little better than I expected for a film of this age and considering the bare-bones nature of the release. The ratio on the DVD is 2.35:1.
The audio is fairly average, but perfectly adequate for the needs of the film. Although a 5.1 soundtrack would have been a great addition, given the atmospheric and very apt background music that plays throughout, the stereo provided here does its job fine.
As with many MGM discs, this one is pretty sparse. The menu is dull and lifeless and the only extra is the original trailer – which thankfully doesn't give away any of the big secrets even though it does deal with plot elements that may leave purists wishing they'd watched it after the film.
The Crying Game is well-acted, well-written and well-directed. It's not too complex, though it has some complexity to it and the plot twists in an interesting manner. It's definitely a watchable (and, as I discovered to my surprise, re-watchable) film, but there's something that made me hold back from loving it.