The Crying Game

The Crying Game (1992)
Live Entertainment
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson

If anyone hasn’t seen the movie "The Crying Game" or had the surprise in the middle of the film spoiled by a friend, don’t worry. We’re not going to spill it here. If you don’t know what it is, you’re in for a hell of a shock.

This 1992 Neil Jordan film was nominated for quite a few Academy Awards and finally won the Award for "Best Original Screenplay", and for good reason. At face value, it’s a compelling story about one cell of the IRA and one of the soldier hostages they take. Stephen Rea plays Fergus, an honorable Volunteer whose desire for freedom for his country is overpowered by his basic decency. Forest Whitaker is Jody, their hostage, a British soldier who’s in Ireland purely to serve out his time and then return home to his love, Dil (Jaye Davidson). Rounding out the cast is Miranda Richardson as Jude, another of the IRA, more fiercely devoted to the cause than Fergus.
When this cell kidnaps Jody, they take him to their forest hideout. They’ve given the British government a three-day deadline to release one of their own, or else they pull the trigger on Jody. Jody, a large, amiable individual, senses the basic decency of Fergus, and strikes up a friendship. He speaks longingly of his special friend Dil, a hairdresser and cabaret singer in Spitalfields, a London working-class suburb. He knows he’s not getting out of this situation alive, and he begs Fergus to pay her a visit.

Shortly thereafter, the word comes down: Fergus is to execute Jody. Dutifully, he takes him to the woods, where Jody escapes – right into the path of an British troop transport, which runs him down. The British troops bomb the IRA hideout, and Fergus fears that his cohorts have all been destroyed. He makes a journey to London and gains a job as a bricklayer, and proceeds to strike up a relationship with the lonely Dil.

The movie takes a detour here, leaving behind the IRA story (though not for long) as it delves into the nature of sexuality, love, and the human condition. Soon enough, though, harsh regional politics rears its ugly head and intrudes on the lovers’ idyll.

The acting in this movie is superb, from Rea’s portrayal of the moody dreamer Fergus, to the exotic and erotic Jaye Davidson, who injects just the right note of self-destructive behavior, optimism, and humor into the character of Dil. Though the movie occasionally suffers from slow pacing, it weaves itself together seamlessly in the end, creating a whole tapestry that is beautiful to look upon and so typical for Nil Jordan’s directorial style.

Part of the movie’s appeal also lies in the gorgeous cinematography which nicely captures the English flair and Victorian masonry of London. While featuring some outdoor scenes, most of the movie’s settings consist of murky bars and dimly lit interiors which enhance the general atmosphere and beauty of the film. Sadly, it is here where some technical flaws come into play. Even though the transfer has been nicely done with naturally rendered fleshtones and overall stable colors, some of those scenes show evidence of <$pixelation,pixelation>. While I would not consider those artifacts intolerable, especially since since most of the problematic areas are usually dark parts of the image that start to lose detail, it might indeed be distracting to some viewers.

"The Crying Game" also features a memorable musical score that reflects both, the typical English working class mentality and the desperate love theme that carries the movie. Very well arranged and orchestrated by Anne Dudley, this soundtrack breathes like a living being and has been superbly transferred as a rich 2.0 channel <$DD,Dolby Digital> soundtrack for this disc. Unfortunately "The Crying Game" does not have any language tracks other than English and also contains no foreign subtitles, which I would consider basic for all DVD releases.

I find it worth mentioning that Live Entertainment put both the <$PS,widescreen> and the <$PS,pan&scan> versions of the movie on the same side of the DVD disc using a <$RSDL,dual-layer> disc. Since the versions are placed on different layers they can easily be accessed from the interactive menu without flipping the disc. Very nice!

In all, this DVD demonstrates why "The Crying Game" received such critical acclaim at the time of its release and still ranks as Jordan’s best and most ambitious work to date. For those interested in the political love-story, this movie is not to be missed, despite the minor flaws in this DVD’s transfer. It is a movie that makes a statement on the political level, while also being an well-crafted exploration of the truth behind feelings, passion, and love.