Released originally in 1992, this classily presented BFI Blu-Ray release of writer/director Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game is quite smart, coming with a booklet highlighting the film’s themes and impact and with some decent extras. That being said, over 20 years after its release, does this Academy Award nominated and winning film still have the power to entice?
The plot sees British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker) kidnapped by the IRA and held hostage, where he develops a bond of sorts with IRA volunteer Fergus (Stephen Rea). Jody knows that, should the British not respond to the IRA’s demands, he will be shot but he pleads that Fergus promises him that, should he die, Fergus will seek out his love Dil in England and tell her everything. This one experience sends Fergus on a journey of discovery that threatens to challenge all he thought he knew. Back in ‘92 the film’s standing came as a result of its big central twist - which is actually less shocking today (due to its fame and the era in which we now live) but the visceral nature of its reveal still catches you off guard. However, there is more to Neil Jordan’s Thriller than a big twist, Jordan’s dissection of political allegiance, sexual and gender politics has arguably grown in its relevance.
In many ways Jordan’s Oscar winning screenplay was ahead of its time and instead of telling a familiar story of a turbulent era of cultural conflict, The Crying Game daringly seeks to tell the story from an unexpected angle and thus makes this film a risky, involving and impactful. Even if you know the twist, the drama is poignant and slightly tragic, as the central blossoming romance initially is an offshoot of an IRA tale but becomes so much more. Blending together issues of class, race, sexuality and gender, the film questions what societal norms are and speaks from the corner of an unexpected group of people, this stroke of genius means that the film has lived on far longer than it ever could have, had it been a straightforward IRA Thriller. It is a film that speaks from the heart and looks at the fragility of the human condition.
The performances are terrific all around, with Stephen Rea exuding humanity despite the situations in which he finds himself, as Forest Whitaker is heartbreakingly fearful, which is barely hidden behind a huge grin of bravery. While Miranda Richardson is rather unsettling as duty obsessed IRA member Jude, and Jim Broadbent offers amusing support as the unjudgmental and quite insightful barman Col. However this entire film belongs to Jaye Davidson, who gives a shattering performance that really broke down major barriers of what mainstream British cinema could - and would soon years later - assess. Davidson is sublime, and in this supporting role still has the power to make you laugh one minute and make you wholly sympathise with the character’s internal pain the next.
The Crying Game is a movie that, as the year’s have progressed, has become an even more meaningful piece of work. Visually noirish at times and with a soundtrack echoing the emotion of the screen, the Blu-Ray is not as polished as others but still clear and well presented. However it is the film itself that is the real draw and many say Neil Jordan is at his best here and while this release does not perhaps come as loaded as it could, the BFI’s release is an appropriately respectful treatment and the film itself remains one of unshakable truth as it refuses to villainies or attack but instead speaks about people trapped by their settings and forced to become something else as a result...and how destructive and painful that can be. A good release of a classic British film.
Special Features: Trailers / Alternative Ending (with commentary) / Making Of / Feature (w/ Commentary)
THE CRYING GAME (1992) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: NEIL JORDAN / STARRING: STEPHEN REA, MIRANDA RICHARDSON, JAYE DAVIDSON, FOREST WHITAKER / RELEASE DATE: 20TH FEBRUARY