The Crying Game

The Crying Game
The Crying Game

UK release poster
Directed by Neil Jordan
Produced by Stephen Woolley
Written by Neil Jordan
Starring Stephen Rea
Jaye Davidson
Miranda Richardson
Forest Whitaker
Music by Anne Dudley
Cinematography Ian Wilson
Editing by Kant Pan
Studio Palace Pictures
Channel Four Films
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) October 30, 1992 (1992-10-30) (UK)
November 25, 1992 (1992-11-25) (US limited)
February 19, 1993 (1993-02-19) (US wide)
Running time 112 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £2.3 million
Box office $62,548,947

The Crying Game is a 1992 psychological thriller drama film written and directed by Neil Jordan. The film explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles. The original working title of the film was The Soldier's Wife.[1]

The Crying Game is about the experiences of the main character, Fergus (Stephen Rea), as a member of the IRA, his brief but meaningful encounter with Jody (Forest Whitaker) who is held prisoner by the group, and his unexpected romantic relationship with Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) whom Fergus promised Jody he would protect. However, unexpected events force Fergus to decide what he wants for the future, and ultimately what his nature dictates he must do.



The film opens as a psychological thriller - IRA foot soldier Fergus and a unit of other IRA fighters, including a woman named Jude and led by Maguire, kidnap Jody, a black British soldier. The IRA demands the release of other jailed IRA members, threatening to execute Jody in three days if their demands are not met. While the amiable Fergus guards Jody, they develop a bond - much to the chagrin of the other IRA men. During this time, Jody tells Fergus the story about the frog and the scorpion.

Jody persuades Fergus to meet his girlfriend, Dil, after he is killed and make sure she is all right. The deadline set by Jody's captors passes and Jody is to be executed. Fergus takes Jody into the woods to carry out the sentence. However, Jody knows that Fergus is no murderer at heart, and makes a break for it. Sure enough, Fergus cannot bring himself to shoot the fleeing Jody in the back, but Jody is instead accidentally run over and killed by British armoured personnel carriers as they suddenly move in to assault the IRA safehouse. With his IRA companions seemingly dead after the attack, Fergus hides from the main body of the IRA in London, where he takes a job as a day labourer with the alias "Jimmy". While in London, Fergus meets Jody's attractive girlfriend Dil at a hair salon. Later they talk in a bar, where the next evening he sees her singing "The Crying Game".

Fergus still suffers from guilt about Jody's death and sees him in his dreams bowling a cricket ball to him. He continues to pursue Dil, protecting her from an obsessive suitor and gradually falling in love with her. Later, when he is about to make love to her in her apartment, he discovers that she is in fact a pre-op transwoman. His initial reaction is of revulsion. Rushing to the bathroom to throw up, he accidentally hits Dil in the face, leaving a bruise, and leaving her on the floor by herself. A few days later, Fergus leaves Dil a note, and the two make up. Despite everything, Dil is still attracted to him. Around the same time, Jude unexpectedly reappears in Fergus' apartment. She tells him that the IRA has tried and convicted him in absentia. She forces him to agree to help with a new mission to aid in assassinating a well-known official. She also offhandedly mentions that she knows about Fergus and Dil, warning him that the IRA will kill her if he does not cooperate.

Fergus, however, cannot overcome his compassion for Dil, who continues wooing him. He shields her from possible retribution by giving her a haircut and male clothes as a disguise. The night before the IRA mission is to be carried out, Dil gets heavily drunk and Fergus has to escort her to her apartment, where Dil asks for him to stay with her. Fergus complies, then admits to Dil that he had an indirect hand in her former boyfriend's death. Dil, drunk, appears not to have understood, but in the morning before Fergus wakes up she ties him to the bed. She unwittingly prevents him from joining the other IRA members and completing the planned assassination. Holding Fergus at gunpoint, Dil forces him to tell her that he loves her and will never leave her. Dil unties him, saying that, even if he is lying, it is still nice to hear his words. Dil then breaks into tears.

Just then, a vengeful Jude comes into their room with a gun, seeking to kill Fergus for missing the assassination. Dil takes several shots at Jude, hitting her in different places, whilst stating that she is aware that Jude was complicit in Jody's death and that she used her sexuality to trick him. Dil finally kills Jude with a shot in the neck. After finishing her off, Dil then points the gun at Fergus, but lowers her hand, saying that she cannot kill him because Jody will not allow her to. Fergus prevents Dil from shooting herself, and tells her to hide out in the club for a while. When Dil is gone, he wipes her fingerprints off the gun and allows himself to be arrested in place of Dil.

The epilogue takes place a few months later - Fergus, in prison, is visited by Dil. Dil, after talking with Fergus about plans once he gets out of jail, asks him why he took the fall for her in the first place. Fergus responds, "As a man once said, it's in my nature." He tells her the story of the frog and the scorpion that he heard from Jody.



Neil Jordan first drafted the screenplay for The Crying Game in the mid-1980s under the title The Soldier's Wife, but shelved the project after a similar film was released. He sought to begin production of the film in the early nineties, but found it difficult to secure financing. Potential investors were discouraged by his recent string of box office flops, as well as the difficult themes of the script.

The film went into production with an inadequate patchwork of funding, leading to a stressful and unstable filming process. The producers constantly searched for small amounts of money to keep the production going and pay disgruntled crew members. The film was known as The Soldier's Wife for much of the production, but Stanley Kubrick, who was a friend of Neil Jordan, counselled against the title saying that audiences would expect a war film.[2]


The film was shown at festivals in Italy, the US and Canada in September, and originally released in Ireland and the UK in October 1992, where it failed at the box office. Director Neil Jordan, in later interviews, attributed this failure to the film's heavily political undertone, particularly its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA fighter. The bombing of a pub in London is specifically mentioned as turning the English press against the film.(See List of terrorist incidents in London, 12 October 1992.)[3]

The then-fledgling film company Miramax decided to promote the film in the US where it became a sleeper hit, earning $62 million at the box office. A memorable advertising campaign generated intense public curiosity by asking audiences not to reveal the film's "secret" to their friends. Jordan also believed the film's success was a result of the film's British/Irish political issues being either lesser-known or completely unknown to American audiences, who thus flocked to the film for what Jordan called "the sexual politics."

The film earned critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Actor in a Leading Role (for Rea), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Davidson) and Best Director. Writer-director Neil Jordan finally won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film went on to success around the world, including a re-release in Britain and Ireland.

Critical reception

Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating and described it as one that "involves us deeply in the story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether."[4] Later, during Siskel and Ebert's annual "Memo to the Academy" program, Gene Siskel gave away the surprise twist of the film while giving his review, which infuriated Ebert.

Considering its discussion of race, nationality, and sexuality, much has been written about The Crying Game. Theorist and author Judith Halberstam analyzes the conflicting visual representations of transpeople in cinema focusing specifically on The Crying Game's twist. Looking for transgender gaze in film, Halberstam argues that Dil's transvestism and viewer's placement in Fergus's point of view reinforces societal norms instead of challenging them.[5]

Awards and nominations

The film received 6 Academy Award nominations, and winning one:


The soundtrack to the film was produced by Anne Dudley and the Pet Shop Boys. Boy George scored his first hit since 1986 with his recording of the title song - a song that had been a hit in the 1960s for British singer Dave Berry. The closing rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" was performed by American singer Lyle Lovett. Tracks 9 through 16 are orchestral, composed by Anne Dudley and performed by the Pro Arte Orchestra Of London.

The film's soundtrack was released on February 23, 1993 as The Crying Game: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album.

  1. "The Crying Game" - Boy George
  2. "When a Man Loves a Woman" - Percy Sledge
  3. "Live for Today" (Orchestral) - Cicero and Sylvia Mason-James
  4. "Let the Music Play" - Carroll Thompson
  5. "White Cliffs of Dover" - The Blue Jays
  6. "Live for Today" (Gospel) - Cicero
  7. "The Crying Game" - Dave Berry
  8. "Stand by Your Man" - Lyle Lovett
  9. "The Soldier's Wife"
  10. "It's in my Nature"
  11. "March to the Execution"
  12. "I'm Thinking of You"
  13. "Dies Irae"
  14. "The Transformation"
  15. "The Assassination"
  16. "The Soldier's Tale"

See also


  1. ^ The Irish Filmography 1896-1996; Red Mountain Press (Dublin); 1996. Page 203
  2. ^ "The Film Programme". Presenter: Francine Stock. The Film programme. BBC. BBC Radio 4, London, England. 2010-09-17.
  3. ^ Interview "English Love" in special features of "The Crying Game Collector's Edition" DVD, 2005
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. Review of The Crying Game. December 18, 1992.
  5. ^ Halberstam, Judith (2005). "In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives", p. 81. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 9780814735855.

External links

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