An ex-IRA terrorist falls in love with the girlfriend of a man he once
captured, but as secrets are revealed, he must decide where his loyalties lie.
The Crying Game (1992)
Written and Directed by Neil Jordan
Starring Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Miranda Richardson,
Adrian Dunbar, Jim Broadbent, Forest Whitaker
Oscar Wins - Best Original Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Stephen Rea), Best Supporting Actor (Jaye Davidson), Best Director, Best Film Editing
Almost every movie buff worth their salt knows about the twist in The Crying Game, even if they've never seen the movie. I knew about it, and it did greatly impact how I watched the movie. I'm going to spoil this 28-year-old movie by revealing the big secret. Dil (Davidson), our female love interest, is actually a man. After this reveal, the rest of the movie is our hero, Fergus (Rea), struggling to accept this truth as he also deals with IRA blowback. It's a harsh movie that never lets anyone be happy for longer than a few days, but that's life. It's one of the earliest movies to have an openly transgender character who affects the plot, and the way the film deals with the character of Dil is both honest and as progressive as you could get for the early 90's.
Fergus is a reluctant soldier in the IRA who is part of a plot to kidnap a British soldier and hold him for ransom. When he's then charged with executing the soldier, Jody (Whitaker), Fergus gets cold feet and instead learns about Jody's girlfriend Dil. Fergus escapes the IRA and relocates to London, where he meets Dil and falls in love with her. But once he learns she's actually a man, Fergus reacts harshly and questions his own identity, just as the IRA tracks him down and threatens to kill Dil unless he does something for them. The film is intense and character driven, and the performances are absolutely mesmerizing, particularly Jaye Davidson as Dil. His performance is so chameleonic that it's not tough to see how audiences were so shocked at his big secret.
The Crying Game is a Best Picture nominee that's kind of fell off the radar since it's release. It's remembered almost entirely for its big twist, but the movie is more than that. It's a solid drama about finding your place in the world and in someone's heart, and how love is something that can transcend gender norms. It's one of the first films to really go there and not come off as insensitive.