The Crying Game: In A Twist
I had never seen The Crying Game, despite knowing the twist most of my adult life — which is why I had never bothered seeing it. The spoiler aspect didn't bother me, but everything except the "dude looks like a lady" element seemed to have receded into oblivion, which didn't bode well for the experience of watching the movie for its own sake.
It's solid, although it hasn't aged very well — the production design is painfully '90s, and the big reveal fell somewhat flat, partly because I'd already had it revealed by living in the world, but partly also because we just know more now, as a culture, about drag and the spectrum of gender, and it's not quite the uncharted territory the film cast it as nearly twenty years ago. When Dil grumbles that she thought he knew, or else why did he come to the club, I thought the same thing; it seemed obvious to me early on, via the performances and the way Dil interacted with Col the bartender (Jim Broadbent, looking much more than 20 years younger). But I can't say for sure I'd have picked it up if I didn't know already, and the script doesn't play it entirely honestly either (the first time Dil and Fergus make out, she slaps his hand away from her crotch, but then later she insists that he must have known if he kept coming to the Metro — so why the coyness?).
The direction the script decides to go with the information, and their relationship, once it's out there is the best possible one, and Stephen Rea as Fergus/Jimmy is the best possible casting. Rea's rueful reluctance to give you much can get repetitive — he gave more or less the same hangdog performance in Guinevere, for instance — but it's indicated here. Fergus wants to think his feelings for Dil haven't resolved themselves, but of course they have, and the "don't call me that" callback becomes an inside joke between lovers. Once the film moves into Dil's world, it's very good.
Before that, and towards the end, it's a bit stagey and weak. The IRA kidnapping scheme that gets the whole plot rolling pays off well in the third act from a story standpoint, but it's played almost comedically, which is weird, and Miranda Richardson is so Cruella and annoying that it's a long-awaited relief when Dil finally shoots her. Forest Whitaker has a few good moments, but just as many stagey, shouty moments, and the show-offy veering between high and low volume confirmed my pre-existing opinion that Whitaker is overrated. I haven't seen The Last King of Scotland; I wouldn't say Whitaker is bad; I do think alternating between whispers and shouts is an actorly exercise that we shouldn't mistake for a believable reproduction of emotion.
On balance, though, I'd say it's a worthwhile watch, if only to see how well the rest of a movie holds up when it's primarily remembered for an unexpected penis. (I'd completely forgotten that it got a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, as well as a fistful of noms — including for Jaye Davidson, whose birthday it happens to be today.)
Tags: Forest Whitaker Jaye Davidson Jim Broadbent Miranda Richardson movies Stephen Rea The Crying Game this scarf-based interior design brought to you by: the 90s