Crying Game, The (1992)

The Crying Game (1992), written and directed by Neil Jordan.

The IRA kidnap a British soldier and offer him as a prisoner swap for one of their key people. He knows he is as good as dead and befriends Fergus, his only decent captor, asking him to look up and take care of his girl in England after it is all over.

When the plot goes south Fergus does go to England and finds Dil and of course falls in love with her. He can't tell her what he knows of her soldier, of course. Their relationship is complicated and everything gets worse when his IRA pals show up and tell him he is still on the job.

After all these years I'm sure everyone already knows the plot twist at the heart of the film, but I am strangely reluctant to reveal it, just in case. Which is a problem: how do you even talk about the film while maintaining silence?

I've heard that "scorpion & frog" fable many times since, usually as a cynical commentary on our unchanging natures. Which may be true, although one of the messages of the film is that maybe it isn't. Jordan said the fable originated with Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadin (1955), and that he got it from an anonymous Arab.

The first part is strong but the second half begins to lose focus before coming back for the resolution. This is not as bad as Jordan's first film, Angel (1982), which also started strong but collapsed in the second half.

I thought the final scene looked tacked-on, but he insists it was planned from the beginning: Fergus doing honest penance for his crimes. I thought it would end with him alone in the apartment, holding the gun. End of him, end of the film. Jordan wanted something more optimistic.

He says the only thing the IRA objected to was sadistic Miranda Richardson: "She makes us look bad. We're not all psycho-killers. Just a few."

He also said that Jaye Davidson had no interest in a film career. He did Stargate (1994) only because he named an outrageous amount of money and got it.

Great support from Jim Broadbent (witty bartender) and Ralph Brown (sleazy boyfriend).

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray import by BFI in the UK. I don't believe the movie has ever had a North American Blu-ray release, which is curious given its fame.

The director provides a frank commentary track about his struggles to get it written and financed. The Irish locations are scenes from his childhood: "My father died under that bridge".

To get the money he had to write and shoot an alternative happy ending first. Then he did the one he really wanted.