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The Crying Game is a taut political thriller, where the politics of The Troubles are explored at the micro level of the lives of a small brilliant cast. Oh no, wait, that’s not right. The Crying Game is a bag of shit, or ‘a bag o’ shoit’ or, pace Forrest Whiitaker ‘a facking bag of shit Gawd bless yer Merry Poppins.’
Forrest Whittaker, who I remember being quite good in some things, quite why his career wasn’t killed off for good by this is beyond me, plays a British squaddie played by Bert the Chimney Sweep from Mary Poppins, if Bert the Chimney sweep was black, which I suppose he is for most of the duration of Mary Poppins.
Before you can say ‘Chim Chim Cheree’, he’s being seduced by the ruthless Miranda Richardson aka Queenie from Blackadder, who spends most of the film pretending to be Julianne Moore, which is quite confusing, and in fact the cover of the DVD seems to have been redone to put her on the front for some reason, and to make her look like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, which is even more confusing.
Anyhoo, it turns out that Queenie is actually part of some Republican terrorist group, who seduced Jody the squaddie in order to capture him as a hostage. The group is led by an Irish version of W.H. Auden or Sebastian out of Brideshead Revisited, who spends the entire film being gnawed by a hair trigger temper that causes him to bash things and say ‘fock’ about every 5 minutes, which, if you ever wanted an insight into what I’m like in private, is about as good as you’re going to get. The other member of this well organised group is an outrageously stereotyped Oirish type called Fergus O’ Fergus or someting like dat, who looks like he’s about to break into a rendition of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ for the entire film.
The human level of politics comes out as Forrest Whittaker and Fergal O’Keane strike up a friendship that crosses the barricades. When the time comes for Fergus to shoot his budding friend Jody McEnglish (a frankly brilliant idea), he experiences a moral dilemma, a tense scene where Jody tests the limits of Fergus’ humanity by running off into the woods shouting ‘you can’t catch me I’m the facking gingerbread man, I say let me go old bean so I can go an sit in the pub with me missus and watch the Tottenham facking Otspur’.
Fortunately at this point Lord Castlereagh bursts onto the scene, nukes the Irish Republican cottage, and runs over Forrest Whittaker’s head, thus solving Fergus’ moral dilemma. Fergus then has the brilliant idea of going to London to look up Jody’s bird, played by the album artwork from ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran.
The entire rest of the film, which lasts a good long while let me tell you, rests on the fragile premise that the widowed wife of a soldier who had been killed in Northern Ireland could somehow not recognise an Irish accent. Fergus, arriving in London, and chatting up the wife of the man whose death he’s kinda a bit responsible for, makes no effort to disguise his identity beyond getting an 80’s haircut (from said wife), and telling her, in his Irish accent that he’s called Jimmy and he comes from Scotland. Now there are some plausible explanations for this a) the voice changers they used on the news when Gerry Adams wanted to say something were very effective b) everyone in the 80’s was too self obsessed and busy bopping to Fade to Grey to notice anything at all. But it seems a bit thin if you ask me.
Some other stuff happens. ‘Her name is Rio’ is going out with an unlikeable Phil Collins lookalike who keeps shouting ‘Oy Rio, make me some facking dinner gal’ until Fergus puts tha I to tha R to tha mutha fucking A on his ass. Rio sings in a nightclub, some dreadful tragic song called ‘the Crying Game’, drawing attention to the fact that this is probably the only film that would be improved by a Dennis Hopper cameo. Jim Broadbent lurks in the background like a fat smug slug like he does in every single film ever, Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter etc etc. Then it turns out that Rio is a lady boy. Then it turns out that W. H. Auden and Julianne Thurman survived the nuke, and have some half baked idea about gunning down some ridiculous target, like Keith Joseph, or David Mellor or someone. Then everyone dies except for Fergus who goes to prison, and Her Name is Rio, who presumably relocates to Wakefield so she can visit him every day, and start a new life as a lady boy in the cosmopolitan capital of the West Riding.