The Crying Game (1992)

(On DVD, October 2017) I’m old enough to remember the hubbub surrounding the release of The Crying Game, and the numerous references/jokes/parodies to the film’s “big secret” that popped up in its wake. (In retrospect, much of it amounted to transphobia, and I would hope that today’s audiences would react in a more mature fashion.)  But viewing the film today, spoilers firmly applied, reveals a film that’s both better and worse than its critical reputation. The worst aspect of the film is its pacing. It takes forever for the premise to be cleared up, there are two first acts to the movie, and there are entire stretches where not much happens. On the other hand, The Crying Game does have quite a bit of dramatic power when it does get going. Knowing all about the film’s dramatic reveal does help in appreciating the subtle humour of the film (ending with “Stand by your Man” is cheeky, but beginning with “When a Man Loves a Woman” is even cheekier), but it also helps in appreciating Jaye Davidson’s unique performance. He’s the standout in a film that also features no less than Stephen Reas as an everyday-man terrorist, Forrest Whittaker as a soldier in unique circumstances and Jim Broadbent as a bartender with an impressive head of black hair. The Crying Game has often been reduced to a punchline, but it’s far more heartfelt than its caricature would suggest. I would really be curious to see a remake in the next decade or so, largely in order to appreciate the progress on transgender issues since 1992. In the meantime, it’s an efficient drama, with a solid emotional core and far more entertaining than I assumed.

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