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March 1993


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 22 Mar 1993 11:30:31 -0400
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In order to discuss the film, perhaps we should adopt the following
convention of prefixing our remarks with: WARNING--DO NOT READ IF YOU
INTEND TO SEE 'THE CRYING GAME'.  Its substance can't, finally, be discussed
Three initial comments:
        (1) Fergus/Jimmy does not seem to be "hardened" IRA man.  He's referred
to as a "volunteer" and I got the impression this was his first real, hard
assignment (in the field).  Does "volunteer" have a special meaning re the
IRA?  In Jody's parable, he is still a frog (his nature/natural instincts
are kind, humane) and has not yet become a scorpion (like Judy).  He doesn't
yet know enough to keep Jody's hood on so that Jody can remain a cypher, a
mere soldier/enemy--faceless other--to him instead of a person.  In this
regard, everyone else, including Jody, is more experienced.
        In this regard, the openness/unresolvedness of the ending can be put
as can/will Fergus/Jimmy remain a frog (does this mean his accepting himself
as Jimmy to Dil, or perhaps Fergus accepting Dil as who she is--and himself
as "luv", "honey", "dear" [Dil: "I can't help it; its my nature" (to call him
those things)].
        (2) The secret seems to me not a gimmick at all, though it is part of
a "rhetorical" trap to catch at least a major segment of the audience.  Here
I think the US advertising might be especially canny, by treating it as a
"gimmick" and suggesting something of a plot twist in what is essentially
a kind of spy/terrorist drama--eg. someone's an undercover agent for the
British or some such.  Thus the film appears to be about the IRA and
English/Irish politics, but in fact ( on my reading) isn't at all.  All of
this is the plot device to set up what its really about--sex, gender,
masculinity, scorpions and frogs (and then, at a third level, after working
through this, it turns back to the IRA).
        The gimmick won't catch everyone, and us in the US may be more/
most susceptible to it (eg., is "The Metro" easily recognizable to English
eyes as the kind of bar it is?  Not to me.)
        (3) re. Jaye Davidson: (a) Last night on Siskel and Ebert's "If We
Gave the Oscar's" program, Gene Siskel gave his oscar for best supporting
actor to Jaye Davidson for the role of Dil.  He then said, and there were
captions to this effect, for those who had not seen the film and were
planning to, to turn down the sound because he was going to have to reveal
the secret in order to explain why he voted this way.  Roger didn't approve
of this (since nobody's really going to do that, and so you'll give the
secret away, etc.).  It is a great performance.
        But, interestingly, when I set out to write this memo, I couldn't
remember his name.  Nobody seems to mention it.  So I looked at the ads
for the film in trusty copies of the NY Times that happened to be about
and: they don't mention him--either under the category of AA Nomination or
as in the film.  They mention Neil Jordan and Stephen Rea, and often
Mirand Richardson (and In at at
Miranda Richarson (and in at least one ad noting that she was nominated for
an AA without specifying for which film ("Damage")), and sometimes, but
not usually Forest Whitaker.  But never Jaye Davidson.
        Jesse Kalin, Vassar