Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1992 - The Crying Game

Thank heavens for the New York Public Library. After doing a relatively brief initial search for the availability of all the movies I need to watch over the coming months, there were a number that seemed not to be anywhere ... until I discovered the NYPL. They have copies of quite a number of the early Best Picture nominees. The only issue, of course, is that a lot of them are only available on VHS, so after getting rid of my seemingly redundant VCR a few months ago, it's now time to buy another one.

At this stage, there are still 10 films that I have been unable to source. (Which is not so bad, considering there are 455 that I have been able to find.) In the next few weeks, I'll post a link on the sidebar to a list of unavailable films and, hopefully, someone out there can help remedy the situation.

Into the second round of Matt vs. the Academy we go. It's 1992, and the first nominee is...

The Crying Game
Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan
Stephen Rea, Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, Jim Broadbent
Academy Awards:
6 nominations
1 win, for Best Original Screenplay

The one big challenge, with which every reviewer must grapple, upon writing about The Crying Game is to discuss the film without giving anything away. For the three people out there who remain unaware of the big twist, I shall try to avoid spoiling it for you ... but I won't try very hard.

The Crying Game centres on Fergus, who is of that most rare breed of anti-heroes: the terrorist with a heart of gold. He's an IRA activist, fighting for Ireland the only way he knows how - by helping to kidnap an English soldier and hold him hostage. But Fergus is the only member of his group who seems to treat their new roommate with even the slightest dignity. So, when Fergus is given the task to kill the soldier, it all goes horribly wrong.

Afterwards, Fergus needs to disappear, so he trots off to London to become invisible. But he can't help thinking of the girl that the English soldier told him about, so he seeks her out. At this point, it's probably best for me to stop summarising the plot, but suffice it to say, there are plenty more complications.

Now, despite the fact that the main shocker occurs approximately half way into the film, it does somewhat lessen the effect of the first half if the viewer is aware of it (as I was the first time I saw this film many years ago). I mean, it's all so bleedingly obvious when you know. But, as it happens, there is, in fact, a whole new enjoyment level to experience from the persepective one gains by possessing this secretive knowledge. Small gestures, half-finished sentences, words oddly emphasised. They all take on a much deeper meaning. You gain an insight into the characters' emotions that is simply not there when you don't know what's really going on.

Writer/director Neil Jordan crafts an intense drama/thriller and deservedly won the Best Original Screenplay for his script. He also assembled a wonderful cast, including Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent. Forest Whitaker is powerful as the English hostage, with an accent that was so convincing, I actually thought he was an English actor for many years. And for an American, he has quite an impressive bowling arm. Jaye Davidson is impossibly sultry as Dil, the soldier's girl. There's also a very interesting rendition of Stand By Your Man played over the closing credits, performed by Lyle Lovett.

One final note: As much as the producers attempted to thwart anyone from blowing their film's twist, it must have felt rather bittersweet when Jaye Davidson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

1 comment:

  1. A special shout-out to Miranda Richardson. 1992 was a banner year for her. Besides The Crying Game, she was also in Enchanted April and Damages. She was nominated for Damages, but honestly deserved one for any of the three films.