The Crying Game

There are certain films that are known mainly for their twists,  although the best films with twists remain worth watching even after you know what’s coming-or, if you knew what was coming all along.  The Crying Game, happily, is in this category, which was handy as I’ve known the twist for eighteen years but just got to seeing the film for the first time this week.  The most interesting thing about the twist that everyone knows is that it’s hardly the only unexpected moment in the film.  In fact, writer/director Neil Jordan (High Spirits) keeps the viewer off-balance for most of the film, both in terms of characters and plot, none of which was what a viewer who goes in only knowing the main twist would suspect.

As much as the plot as a first time viewer needs is this:  an IRA cell kidnaps Jody (Forest Whitaker, Body Snatchers), a British soldier from a carnival using Jude (Miranda Richardson, Sleepy Hollow) as bait.  They plan on exchanging Jody for their own prisoners, but everyone seems to realize this is an unlikely prospect.  Although most of the cell members avoid contact with Jody, Fergus (Stephen  Rhea, The Butcher Boy) is kind to him, and the pair strike up a strange friendship.  Jody tells Fergus about his girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson, Stargate), and asks him to find her if things go wrong…

Jordan’s films are generally atypical and interesting to watch, and The Crying Game is no exception.   The story developments are consistently surprising, there’s a good deal of tension-both from the guerrilla thriller plot and from the romantic drama plot.  Expectations are consistently subverted, and not just by the twist that almost anyone who watches this now is going to know going in.  The acting is uniformly (Jim Broadbent adds a touch of humor as bar tender Col) and the scenes  between Whitaker and Rhea and Davidson and Rhea are particularly strong.  When violence shows up, it’s always fast and to the point but packs a lot of impact.  The ending is definitely not what I expected from the film.  If you are someone like me, who has known of the film for years but avoided it due to the spoiled twist and a vague idea of the plot, it’s worth finally checking out.

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