Viking Night: The Crying Game
By Bruce Hall
September 17, 2013
It's interesting to think about how controversial The Crying Game was at the time it came out. I'm not trying to say that age has made it seem quaint; I think the film, if not early ‘90s fashion, has aged pretty well. It’s just that popular entertainment and society itself both mature over time, and tastes are always subject to change. People get over things, is what I’m trying to say. But the Secret of The Crying Game - for the three or four of you who haven't heard - is such a...small part of what's happening here. The real question is whether the story is even worthy of such a provocative twist.
For the first quarter of the film, you might forget that you're not watching a war movie. A horny tween named Jody (Forest Whitaker) is making headway flirting with a girl, whom he's just met at an amusement park. Jody is a British soldier stationed in Ireland, and currently on leave. And like a lot of guys his age in uniform, he spends his downtime on the prowl. He's caught something pretty and blond and named Jude (Miranda Richardson). But just as they're about to get it on, a gang sets upon Jody, slips a bag over his head and stuffs him into a sedan. Looks like the player got played.
Jody, who is black - did I mention that? - just got the crap beat out of him by a gang of white boys, who lured him in with a white woman. For just a moment, it feels like a John Grisham potboiler in the making, and then you hear all those Irish accents. That would be the second layer of tension involved due to the fact that a British soldier has just been kidnapped by the Irish Republican Army. For those not in the know, think of it as like the Israeli-Palestinian thing, except with Irish Catholics and English Protestants. Not only are the accents cooler, but all of these things congeal into something that rivets your eyes to the screen for a full 30 minutes.
An IRA soldier named Fergus (Stephen Rea) is assigned to watch Jody while everyone waits for the hostage swap. Jude (who has a little something on the side with Fergus) and their leader Maguire (Adrian Dunbar) are piss and vinegar firebrands who immediately point out that they'll have to kill their prisoner if the English refuse to play ball. Fergus is a bleeding heart who seems to have trouble accepting violence, and whose prominent moral code prevents him from behaving inhumanely.
Remember I've said that, because it's going to be important in a minute.
Maguire and Jude are cruel to Jody. Fergus seems to feel a little guilt over the tremendous inconvenience they've surely imposed upon this poor kid by making him think he was about to get laid, kidnapping him, beating him, and tying him to a chair for two days. I feel the same way, but I'm not a hardened terrorist willing to die for the cause. Fergus doesn't really seem to fit in with the other freedom fighters, and when it falls to him to put a bullet in Jody's head, he only reluctantly agrees. Things don't go as planned, yadda yadda - bypassing spoiler - and it turns out that Jody has a girlfriend back in England.