The Crying Game
|The Crying Game|
UK release poster
|Directed by||Neil Jordan|
|Produced by||Stephen Woolley|
|Written by||Neil Jordan|
|Music by||Anne Dudley|
|Editing by||Kant Pan|
Channel Four Films
|Distributed by||Miramax Films (US)|
|Running time||111 minutes|
The Crying Game is a 1992 British-Japanese psychological thriller drama film written and directed by Neil Jordan. The film explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles. The original working title of the film was The Soldier's Wife.
The Crying Game is about the experiences of the main character, Fergus (Stephen Rea), as a member of the IRA, his brief but meaningful encounter with Jody (Forest Whitaker) who is held prisoner by the group, and his unexpected romantic relationship with Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) whom Fergus promised Jody he would protect. However, unexpected events force Fergus to decide what he wants for the future, and ultimately what his nature dictates he must do.
The film opens as a psychological thriller – IRA foot soldier Fergus and a unit of other IRA fighters, including a woman named Jude and led by Maguire, kidnap Jody, a black British soldier after Jude lures him to a secluded area with the promise of sex. The IRA demands the release of other gaoled IRA members, threatening to execute Jody in three days if their demands are not met. While the amiable Fergus guards Jody, they develop a bond – much to the chagrin of the other IRA men. During this time, Jody tells Fergus the story about the Scorpion and the Frog.
Jody persuades Fergus to promise to seek out his girlfriend, Dil, in London, to tell her he loved her, and protect her after Jody has been killed. The deadline set by Jody's captors passes and Jody is to be executed. Fergus takes Jody into the woods to carry out the sentence. However, Jody knows that Fergus is no murderer at heart, and makes a break for it. Sure enough, Fergus cannot bring himself to shoot the fleeing Jody in the back, but Jody is instead accidentally run over and killed by British Saracen armoured personnel carriers as they suddenly move in to assault the IRA safe-house. With his IRA companions seemingly dead after the attack, Fergus hides from the main body of the IRA in London, where he takes a job as a day labourer, using the alias "Jimmy". While in London, Fergus seeks out and meets Jody's attractive girlfriend Dil at a hair salon. Later they talk in a bar, where the next evening he sees her singing "The Crying Game".
Fergus still suffers from guilt about Jody's death and sees him in his dreams bowling a cricket ball to him. He continues to pursue Dil, protecting her from an obsessive suitor and gradually falling in love with her. Later, when he is about to make love to her in her apartment, he discovers that she is in fact a transgender woman. His initial reaction is of revulsion. Rushing to the bathroom to throw up, he accidentally hits Dil in the face, leaving her with a nosebleed. He then leaves the apartment. A few days later, Fergus leaves Dil a note, and the two make up. Despite everything, Dil is still attracted to him. Around the same time, Jude unexpectedly reappears in Fergus' apartment. She tells him that the IRA has tried and convicted him in absentia. She forces him to agree to help with a new mission to aid in assassinating a judge. She also off-handedly mentions that she knows about Fergus and Dil, warning him that the IRA will kill her if Fergus does not co-operate.
Fergus, however, cannot overcome his feelings for Dil, and continues wooing her. Fergus shields her from possible retribution by giving her a haircut and male clothes, as a disguise. The night before the IRA mission is to be carried out, Dil gets heavily drunk and Fergus has to escort her to her apartment, where Dil asks for Fergus to stay with her. Fergus complies, then admits to Dil that he had an indirect hand in her former boyfriend's death. Dil, drunk, appears not to have understood, but in the morning, before Fergus wakes up, Dil ties him to the bed. Dil unwittingly prevents Fergus from joining the other IRA members and completing the planned assassination. Holding Fergus at gunpoint, Dil forces him to tell Dil that he loves her and will never leave her. Dil unties him, saying that, even if he is lying, it is still nice to hear his words. Dil then breaks down in tears.
Meanwhile, Jude and Maguire gun the judge down, but Maguire is shot dead by one of his bodyguards. A vengeful Jude enters Dil's flat with a gun, seeking to kill Fergus for missing the assassination. Dil takes several shots at Jude, hitting her, whilst stating that she is aware that Jude was complicit in Jody's death and that Jude used her sexuality to trick him. Dil finally kills Jude with a shot in the neck. Dil then points the gun at Fergus, but lowers her hand, saying that she cannot kill him, because Jody will not allow her to. Fergus prevents Dil from shooting herself, and tells her to hide out in the club for a while. When Dil is gone, he wipes Dil's fingerprints off the gun and allows himself to be arrested in place of Dil.
The epilogue takes place a few months later – Fergus, in prison serving a sentence of over six years, is visited by Dil. Dil, after talking with Fergus about plans once he gets out of prison, asks him why he took the fall for her in the first place. Fergus responds, "As a man once said, it's in my nature." He then tells her the story of the Scorpion and the Frog.
Neil Jordan first drafted the screenplay in the mid-1980s under the title The Soldier's Wife, but shelved the project after a similar film was released. He sought to begin production of the film in the early nineties, but found it difficult to secure financing. Potential investors were discouraged by his recent string of box office flops, as well as the difficult themes of the script; most studio heads believed the role to be un-castable.
The film went into production with an inadequate patchwork of funding, leading to a stressful and unstable filming process. The producers constantly searched for small amounts of money to keep the production going and pay disgruntled crew members. The film was known as The Soldier's Wife for much of the production, but Stanley Kubrick, who was a friend of Jordan, counselled against the title saying that audiences would expect a war film.
The film was shown at festivals in Italy, the US and Canada in September, and originally released in Ireland and the UK in October 1992, where it failed at the box office. Director Neil Jordan, in later interviews, attributed this failure to the film's heavily political undertone, particularly its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA fighter. The bombing of a pub in London is specifically mentioned as turning the English press against the film.(See List of terrorist incidents in London, 12 October 1992.)
The then-fledgling film company Miramax decided to promote the film in the United States where it became a sleeper hit, earning over $60 million at the box office. A memorable advertising campaign generated intense public curiosity by asking audiences not to reveal the film's "secret" to their friends. Jordan also believed the film's success was a result of the film's British/Irish political issues being either lesser-known or completely unknown to American audiences, who thus flocked to the film for what Jordan called "the sexual politics."
The film earned critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Rea), Best Supporting Actor (Davidson), and Best Director. Writer-director Jordan finally won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film went on to success around the world, including rereleases in Britain and Ireland.
The Crying Game received worldwide acclaim from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating and described it as one that "involves us deeply in the story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether." Later, during Siskel and Ebert's annual "If We Picked the Winners" program, Gene Siskel gave away the surprise twist of the film while giving his review, which infuriated Ebert.
Considering its discussion of race, nationality, and sexuality, much has been written about The Crying Game. Theorist and author Judith Halberstam analyzes the conflicting visual representations of transpeople in cinema focusing specifically on The Crying Game's twist. Looking for transgender gaze in film, Halberstam argues that Dil's transvestism and viewer's placement in Fergus's point of view reinforces societal norms instead of challenging them.
Awards and nominations
The film received 6 Academy Award nominations, and winning one:
- Best Original Screenplay – Neil Jordan (Win)
- Best Picture – Stephen Woolley
- Best Director – Neil Jordan
- Best Actor – Stephen Rea
- Best Supporting Actor – Jaye Davidson
- Best Film Editing – Kent Pan
The soundtrack to the film, The Crying Game: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, released on 23 February 1993, was produced by Anne Dudley and the Pet Shop Boys. Boy George scored his first hit since 1986 with his recording of the title song – a song that had been a hit in the 1960s for British singer Dave Berry. The closing rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" was performed by American singer Lyle Lovett.
- "The Crying Game" – Boy George
- "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge
- "Live for Today" (Orchestral) – Cicero and Sylvia Mason-James
- "Let the Music Play" – Carroll Thompson
- "White Cliffs of Dover" – The Blue Jays
- "Live for Today" (Gospel) – David Cicero
- "The Crying Game" – Dave Berry
- "Stand by Your Man" – Lyle Lovett
- "The Soldier's Wife"*
- "It's in my Nature"*
- "March to the Execution"*
- "I'm Thinking of You"*
- "Dies Irae"*
- "The Transformation"*
- "The Assassination"*
- "The Soldier's Tale"*
- * - Orchestral track composed by Anne Dudley and performed by the Pro Arts Orchestra of London
- "THE CRYING GAME (18)". Mayfair Entertainment. British Board of Film Classification. 28 August 1992. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- The Irish Filmography 1896–1996; Red Mountain Press (Dublin); 1996. Page 203
- Presenter: Francine Stock (2010-09-17). "The Film Programme". The Film programme. BBC. BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tq1vt#synopsis.
- Interview "English Love" in special features of "The Crying Game Collector's Edition" DVD, 2005 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104036/dvd
- Ebert, Roger. Review of The Crying Game. December 18, 1992
- If We Picked the Winners 1992
- Halberstam, Judith (2005). "In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives", p. 81. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 978-0-8147-3585-5.
- The Crying Game at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official website
- The Crying Game at the Internet Movie Database
- The Crying Game at Box Office Mojo
- The Crying Game at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Crying Game at Metacritic