Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dil was his sled

It's hard to believe, but it's been just about 30 years since the premiere of the movie The Crying Game. I recorded it to my DVR during one of the previous DirecTV free preview weekends and, seeing that it's going to be on again several times in the near future, starting with 11:00 AM tomorrow on Thriller Max, I finally decided to watch it to do a review here.

I assume most people know the "controversial" twist, so I don't feel so bad about having given it away in the title of this post. The real plot of the movie, which might be less well known, starts with Jody (Forest Whittaker) at a funfair somewhere in Northern Ireland. Jody is also a soldier for the British units trying to keep some semblance of peace in the restive territory, and as such his and the other military units are actively hated by the IRA, who want Northern Ireland reabsorbed into the Republic. With that in mind, an IRA cell led by Maguire (Adrian Dunbar) uses Jude (Miranda Richardson) to lure Jody with sex, whereupon they kidnap him.

At an undisclosed location somewhere in Ulster, Maguire and Jude hold Jody hostage, with the grunt work of actually guarding him being done by Fergus (Stephen Rea). The plan is to use Jody as a hostage to try to get the British to release a particular IRA prisoner; if the British don't they'll kill Jody after three days and it will be Fergus who has to pull the trigger. Jody, understandably, starts working on Fergus, while Fergus doesn't seem quite so enthusiastic about engaging in such kidnappings. Along the way, Fergus learns about Dil (Jaye Davidson), ostensibly Jody's girlfriend, who is a hairdresser in London.

Anyway, the three days pass, and Maguire does indeed hold to his plan to have Jody executed, with Fergus having to do the actual deed. Jody tries to escape, and would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling British army. In a cruel irony, just as Jody makes it to the road, he's run over and killed by a British APC. The British, however, are able to attack the IRA cell, with Fergus getting away.

Some time passes, and Fergus has made his way to London, taking on an assumed name and working construction. He's consumed with guilt, evidenced by the ridiculous dreams he has of Jody throwing a cricket ball with a strange aura around him. But at least he was able to escape the IRA, and with the rest of his cell gone, who higher up is going to know what became of him? This leaves him able to pursue Dil, at least in the sense of being able to find out what Jody saw in Dil so that Fergus can possibly assuage some of his guilt.

But Fergus begins to fall in love with Dil, which causes all sorts of problems. First off, if you were responsible for somebody's death and then fell in love with that person's lover, wouldn't you think that's just a little bit awkward? Worse for Fergus, however, is that Maguire and Jude didn't die when the British found Jody. Not only did they escape, but they've been able to track down Fergus. They're not about to let him escape the IRA, and intend to use him in their next terrorist plot, assassinating a judge somewhere in London.

The story in The Crying Game is a pretty good one, even without the twist for which the movie became famous. In some ways, it's actually a bit of a shame that the movie has the twist, since everybody remembers that rather than the rest of the movie. (Also, the twist comes a little more than halfway into the movie, not at the climax as you might think.) Stephen Rea gives a fine, Oscar-nominated performance, while the suspensful script actually won an Oscar. If there was one flaw, it's that parts of the movie seemed a bit unrealistic, notably those dream sequences. I'm also not certain if the ending of the movie is what would happen in real life.

But then, who ever said the movies are supposed to be real life? It's easy enough to suspend disbelief for the ending, and enjoy what is a darn good movie, even without that twist.

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