Wednesday, April 13, 2011
CRYING GAME, THE
(November 1992, U.S.)
There are moments in film that I like to call the "Holy shit! What the fuck just happened??" moments. Imagine how audiences first freaked out in 1960 when they saw Janet Leigh stabbed to death midway through Hitchcock's PSYCHO. Imagine how shocked YOU were back in 1995 when you first learned that Kevin Spacey was Keyser Soze in THE USUAL SUSPECTS or back in 1999 when you learned that Bruce Willis was really dead in THE SIXTH SENSE. You get what I mean? Now while I would consider the above-mentioned scene from PSYCHO probably the greatest shocking moment in film, I can't honesty call it MY greatest film shocker because by the time I finally saw the film for the first time on television I already knew that Janet Leigh was going to get it when she did. No, for me, the greatest "Holy shit! What the fuck just happened??" moment in film is definitely the infamous shocker of THE CRYING GAME. Never in my life was I more shocked and surprised to see a man's dick before!
The film, on the surface, is a psychological thriller, but it explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Irish Republican Army. It's a story that involves us deeply in one premise, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether. Fergus (played by Stephen Rea), suffering from extreme guilt over his inadvertent ivolvement in the killing of a black British soldier by the hands of the IRA, fullfills a promise to look after the soldier Jody's (played by Forest Whitaker) girlfriend Dil (played by Jaye Davidson) back in England. As cliche and inevitability would have it, he gets close and falls for her until that pivotal moment in her bedroom when it's revealed to him (and those watching the film) that she is really a HE (Holy shit! What the fuck just happened??)! Sickened as he is at first, he slowly finds that genuine love, care and affection seems to know no boundaries and limitations, even to the extent of his (Fergus's) doing jail time to protect her (him).
Initially, I had no interest in seeing THE CRYING GAME until it started receiving all kinds of Oscar buzz (back when I actually gave a shit about Oscar buzz!). It was being billed as "the movie eveyones's talking about but no one's giving away it's secret". Never was a film tagline more true! Like many others, I gasped my deepest breath when the gender-revealing moment happened before my eyes. When it was over, I concluded that it was not only a great film, but one of the best independent films of the 1990s.
Deveroux: "Does Pat have a tart?"
Fergus: "She's not a tart."
Deveroux: "No, of course not. She's a lady."
Fergus: " No, she's not that either."