September 7, 2011

Queer Review: The Crying Game (1992)

The Crying Game
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Neil Jordan
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Rea, Adrian Dunbar, Jaye Davidson, Jim Broadbent

Perhaps one of the most critically lauded queer themed films of all time, The Crying Game certainly lives up to it's reputation. There is not a single misstep, bad performance, or wasted moment in a film that slowly builds tension to the maximum level possible.

In the first part, a British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker) who has been taken hostage by the IRA, forges a relationship with one of the kidnappers, Fergus (Stephen Rea). As it becomes increasingly evident that the IRA will have to execute Jody, he asks Fergus to deliver a message to his girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson). Once the hostage situation is resolved, Fergus decides to keep his promise to Jody, and goes looking for Dil. When Fergus finds Dil, he fails to mention his part in Jody's disappearance and Dil fails to mention that he is a male to female transsexual.

The Queering
The Crying Game succeeds where so many thrillers fail precisely because it builds suspense through developing charachters and their relationships with each other, rather than through pyrotechnics, gun fights, and car chases. There are only two significant action sequences and neither lasts more than a few minutes.

The acting is superlative across the board. As Fergusen, Stephen Rea manages to constantly show us the struggle going on beneath the surface of a man who is frequently caught between his duty and his humanity. Equally good is Jaye Davidson's beguiling performance as Dil. The relationship that develops between Stephen Rea's Fergusen and Forest Whitaker's Jody is complex and multilayered, as is the relationship that later forms between Fergusen and Jaye Davidson's Dil. Each pairing starts out with at least one participant wearing a mask, be it the bag that is placed over Jody's head, or the metaphorical mask that prevents Fergusen and Jaye from initially knowing the reality of the other's truth nature.

There are several memorable sequences as well. One is that which follows after Fergusen volunteers to kill Jody. The second has Fergusen getting his hair cut at Dil's Saloon and then following him to a nearby bar where Jim Broadbent's bartender acts as a mediator for their conversation. The final is during the final build up to the climax, where Fergusen asks Dil to cut her hair and pretend to be a man in order to safely hide Dil from the antagonists.

Safe to say, The Crying Game is among the greatest queer movies ever made. If more filmmakers were as creatively daring as Neil Jordan, cinema would offer movie buffs far fewer reasons to cry.

Highly recommended. No matter what the rules are, The Crying Game is always worth playing.

The Rating


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