Ok, champs now here’s the deal. My last review… which ironically was also my first review (mind officially blown) I went out of my way to not provide any spoilers because I wanted you to watch the film yourself and rejoice. That may have been a redundant move because I’m just a random chick with internet access so why would you do what I say? I even struggle to do what I say most of the time. Seriously, it’s annoying.
Me: Hey, it would be really beneficial to the progression on my life if I did this specific thing.
Also Me: Yeah, it would but what about if I… didn’t?
Me: Fuck! You got me there!
The thing is, the film I have chosen to talk about next only really interest me because of the twist, meaning I don’t think I’d get any enjoyment from writing about it if I just neglected it. And since I satisfying my own wants is a major priority in my life, I’m just going to go for it. Get ready for a swarm of spoilers! You have been warned!
The Crying Game opens up to a fairground in Belfast where the IRA plans to ambush a British soldier called Jody , played by Forest Whitaker with a very poor English accent. They find a shed and plan to hold him hostage in there until the British Army release IRA prisoners, promising that if they don’t they will kill Jody. But one IRA volunteer named Fergus, played by Stephen Rea, makes the mistake of befriending Jody because that’s a great idea! Nothing bad can come from that. Oh, except Fergus now has to shoot him. God dammit, didn’t see that coming! If only there was some warning or mission objective to have prevented this awkwardness. Jody’s final wish is for Fergus to go back to London and take care of his girlfriend, Dil, after he’s fed the worms. Bur plot twist (oh, we’re in for a fair few of these bad boys) Fergus never actually gets to kill Jody. Jody runs away and Fergus chases him for a bit and then decides to let him go onto his freedom so that he can reacquaint himself with the love of his life and live happily until the end of his days.
Then Jody gets run over by a tank.
Fergus himself then runs away, cuts his hair, calls himself Jimmy, claims to be Scottish despite never getting rid of his Irish accent, and goes to keep his promise to Jody and look after Dil. They are both immediately attracted to each other and it doesn’t take long for a relationship to blossom. On their fourth encounter things really start to get saucy; proper Reggae Reggae! Fergus kisses Dil’s cheek, then her neck, pulling off her robe as he goes down her long slender bod… OH MY GOD she’s a man!
But now not only does he have to deal with this sudden turn of events and the confusing emotions accompanying them, the IRA group that he ran away from located him and threaten to hurt Dil if he doesn’t continue to work for them. And the moral of this story is: Never befriend Forest Whitaker!
The film is based on the classic Irish story called ‘A Guest of the Nation’ by Frank O’Connor, where IRA men from the 1920’s become friends with the man they have to kill. I’ve never read it but you can if you want. I’ll probably pick it up later.
A Guest of the Nation
I had a weird little obsession with Stephen Rea at the time, so that’s what prompted me to watch this film in the first place. I think his accent played a large part in it because it a fact that Irish is the sexiest accent across the globe. He uses his own accent in the film, the one that Dil thinks is Scottish to which Fergus is like “Yep. Scottish. Totes McMe.” He was born in Belfast and uses his real accent throughout the film– but the real question is whether that was his real hair? Did he actually cut it for the role? Was it just a Hobbit wig? Will we ever know? Or care?
Why do people cut their hair when they’re trying to disguise themselves. You’re showing more of your face that way. Idiot. Although, in his defence, Stephen does have a rather good face. It’s just really gentle and sweet. The whole guy is, really. I’ll tell you something now; if he wanted to be my friend, I’d let him. And because he doesn’t actually smile a lot during the film it makes the times when he does smile absolutely charming and much more likeable. But this could also act as an insight to the vulnerability of his character; the impression that he is unsure of himself and is easily bullied into things.
“Not much use, are you, Fergus?” He soldier asks him.
“Me? No. I’m not good for much.”
He is too kind to be a terrorist so I can only assume that he was bullied into volunteering. He became a murderer by mistake, and became gay on accident. Nothing is in his control.
A Film4 review says that “Fergus is not a tragic hero whose essential goodness leads him to err”. It’s an interesting point but I don’t completely agree with it. True, the majority of the film consists of Fergus constantly following the wishes of other people blindly (even when he decides that he doesn’t want to continue his relationship with Dil, she still manages to persuade him to kiss and go out with her again. We get the impression that he doesn’t even bother resisting. Although, this could be because that his feelings for her are too strong, and not that his self esteem is too weak).
However, when Dil kills Miranda Richardson’s character out of self defence and revenge, Fergus tells Dil to go to the pub while he waits in the flat, wiping Dil’s fingerprints off the gun and replacing it with his own. He does 6 years in prison to protect Dil. He’s not a tragic hero in the sense of personal downfall, but he did suffer because of his kindness and was rewarded with Dil’s love. I was confused because when Dil asks why he did it he says “Well, as a man once said, it’s in my nature.” So, did he really do it for love or just because he was a good guy? But I think that the alternate ending confirms that his love was genuine when he comes back to visit her, and in the comments it’s says that the scene is supposed to end with Fergus and Dil leaving the hairdressers, holding hands and making holiday plans. The beginning of the film foreshadows this where Jody needs the toilet but Fergus won’t untie his hands so he has to whip Jody’s penis in and out again. Fergus is really reluctant to put it back in and only does so when Jody exclaims “It’s only a piece of meat!” That’s why Fergus allows himself to have feelings for Dil despite her having a penis because “It’s only a piece of meat”.
Another thing that confirmed it for me was the use of the closing song “Stand By Your Man” by Lyle Lovett.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
But you’ll have bad times and he’ll have good times
Doing things that you don’t understand
But if you love him, you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand
And if you love him, oh be proud of him
‘Cos after all he’s just a man
Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely
Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man.”
This song could be sung from both Fergus and Dil’s point of view. “But if you love him, you’ll forgive him” that could be Dil forgiving Fergus for lying to her about his identity and being involved with Jody’s death. “And if you love him, oh be proud of him/’Cos after all he’s just a man” And that could be Fergus overcoming Dil’s biology and loving her. So what if she was originally a man? She’s a woman now, and a hot one at that!
When Fergus discovers that Dil is biologically a man, he runs to the toilet to throw up. I physically laughed out loud that this cartoon reaction because it’s absolutely ridiculous! I do not believe that anyone actually react like that. I have trouble believing that a homophobe would react like that! This might have something to do with the time that I live in, what with the increase of homosexuality we are exposed to via the media, and even how male fashion has become much more feminine over the years. It could be argued that Fergus’s over the top reaction represents the Catholic ideology of gender and sexuality; that homosexuality is a sin and transexuality is a mutilation of God’s design.
Neil Jordon first met model, Jaye Davidson, at a party where he told Jordon that he often got confused for a girl, and that was when Jordon asked Davidson to play the part of Dil. I can see why but, unfortunately, I already knew what the plot was because they tell you in ‘Shallow Hal’ so I was robbed of that ‘Oh!’ moment and was instead left with the anticipation of how/when they were going to reveal the big reveal. I watched the film several times with several different people who didn’t know the twist – none of them let out a horrified gasp or left their mouths hanging in utter disbelief. Apart from an eyebrow raise or an exhale of a giggle, nobody was fazed at all. Again, I think this has something to do with the times that we’re living in. In one of its earlier screenings the audience gasped and muttered amongst themselves for the next ten minutes, making them lose track of the story. I think the shock came from the fact that Jaye Davidson is such a convincing woman, a manly woman, perhaps, but a woman none the less. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for his acting. I’m not saying he’s a bad actor, but if I never saw anything else he was in I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out. Soz meht.
The film doesn’t glorify homosexuality. Fergus never has a moment of clarity where he suddenly discovers his true self. He remains all the way through the film a heterosexual male that is repulsed by the idea of a sexual relationship with Dil. This is why I think it’s the most realistic gay film I have seen because the relationship isn’t anywhere close to being perfect. (Then again I’m not a gay man, so I wouldn’t really know what a realistic gay film is). When he discovers the truth about Dil, Fergus insists that she stop calling him pet names (although, after a while his “Don’t call me that.” Seem to become more playful). And yet it is only the homoerotic relationships that are centred around genuine love. The only truly heterosexual relationships are the ones that Jody and Fergus share with Jude (Miranda Richardson) and they are hardly idealistic – the former was a con to capture a prisoner, the latter was just sex talk.
Fergus and Jody both have relationships with the same two women: they both lust after Jude, and they both fall in love with Dil – but this is the only thing they have in common (apart from the enjoyment of each other’s company). Everything about them is a contridiction (black/white, English/Irish, Nigger/Paddy) and this is symbolic of Western society’s binary views on everything, that men are men and women are women. A 1992 review of ‘The Crying Game’ from the 1994 Variety Movie Guide describes Stephen Rea (Jordon’s stalwart) as “intriguingly handsome-homely, decisive-passive, gentle-violent”. Even the DVD cover is in black and white.
It was nominated for many Oscar’s such as Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and actually won an Oscar for Original Screenplay. Despite its lukewarm response in the UK, it was a huge success, earning $62,000,000 in the box office. However, it remains the UK’s #1 Non-US Video Rental Title in 1992, placing 22nd on the chart. My personal opinion is that, while the acting may not be completely on point all the time, I ruddy well enjoy it. I’ve seen it multiple time and I’ll see it multiple times more.
And in the words of a completely different Forrest: