THE CRYING GAME FEATURE
table at you. ‘I was a bit concerned about that aspect of it. but as I carried on writing, it spiralled on from Northern Irish politics to something deeper and altogether more interesting.‘
The story follows Stephen Rea as Fergus, a South Armagh IRA man charged with the task of looking after British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker, unlikely casting). recently taken hostage via the combined I efforts ofcommitted terrorists Jude
j (Miranda Richardson) and Maguire (Adrian
f Dunbar). Duringthe soldier’s last hours. however. captor and captive are to strike up an unlikely relationship. and when events l force Fergus to flee to London and find work i as a brickie. he makes good on his promise 3 to visit the dead man’s wife. a hairdresser ' named Dil (startling newcomer Jaye Davidson). This is just about the moment 3 when Jordan‘s narrative switches up a gear, 5 for at one fell swoop a taut thriller develops into something else entirely. for his I burgeoning feelings for Dil and the unexpected return ofsome faces from the past combine to force Fergus into reassessing almost everything he‘s been brought up to believe in. There‘s much here to provoke. both in the ’even-handed depiction ofthe kind of IRA activists who‘d be forbidden to speak under our current broadcasting restrictions and in 1 the head-on portrayal ofsome still fairly [delicate areas ofsexual identity. Fusing the I public nightmare of the Troubles last touched on by Angel with the personal 9 drama ofobsessional emotions pictured so ;affectingly in Mona Lisa, Jordan manages to 1 bring together some of the most potent elements in his previous work. ‘I’ve had two kinds of reaction so far.’ admits Jordan. ‘One is “I Iow dare you portray the IRA in such a sympathetic light” and the other is "How dare you portray the IRA in such an unsympathetic light". What I 3 wanted to do was to have in Stephen Rea’s
j character someone who was an essentially
good human being, but the Adrian Dunbar and Miranda Richardson characters to be people who were committed to what they were doing to the extent that they were able to forget their own emotional reactions to it. I would imagine both types of personalities exist within the IRA, but once Fergus realises that Jody isn’t just a squaddie, a uniform, but a very funny and fascinating individual the more human he becomes and the more difficult it is for Fergus to deal with the task ofeliminating him from this world.’
There’s much hereto provoke, both in the even-handed depiction of the kind of IRA activists who’d be forbidden to speak under our current broadcasting restrictions and in the head-on portrayal of some still fairly delicate areas of sexual identity.
Like Mona Lisa, The Crying Game tackles the touchy area of inter-racial sexuality with the sort of courage you wouldn’t at first glance associate with a quintessentially white, middle-class Irishman like Jordan. ‘I’m Irish, I’m not a woman. What am I gonna do?’ he comes out slugging. ‘Am I going to get Spike Lee to write the parts for Forest and Jaye? Am I going to get Penny Marshall to write Miranda’s part? We live in such a world of self-censorship these days, where because of the sensitivity of all sorts of issues people feel they haven’t earned the right to address them. The whole Political Correctness thing makes people nervous and it makes stories dull.’
Thus speaks someone who, especially with Mona Lisa, has drawn criticism for an extremely male view of women. ‘Either they’re these magnificent desirable creatures or they’re monsters’ is his summary of the arguments against him. The new film — like Angel’s innocent young girl,
the Cathy Tyson character in the aforementioned Mona Lisa or the enigmatic American played by Beverly D’Angelo in The Miracle — centres on yet another powerfully alluring female in the figure of Jaye Davidson’s Dil.
‘Men are obsessed with women but the reality turns out to be something different. That just about sums it up,’ pronounces Jordan. ‘Where does it come from? I like to think about that scene in Citizen Kane where the journalist is trying to find out about ‘Rosebud’ from the man who used to run the newspaper with Orson Welles. The old guy can’t answer the questions, but he does tell the story of how when he was twenty he was on the Staten Island ferry one day and he saw a woman in a white dress opposite. He never said a word to her, but there has hardly been a day gone by since when he hasn’t thought about her. There’s something of that powerful sense of romantic longing in what I do. The male characters are looking for that one thing they think’ll fulfil every aspect of their needs and desires. But it doesn’t, of course. Because nothing does.’
The Crying Game opens atselected cinemas on Friday 6 November.
Stephen Rea as Fergus
more British friends there than I have in
that appeared over the last decade, ,
country; cinema Isn’t seen as an art
i ‘To get a film made in this country, you
have to be willing to beg, basically, no matter how successful your last film was,’ says producer Stephen Woolley. ‘When I go to Los Angeles, I’ve got
i In the mixed bag of British movies
London now—Julian Temple, Michael Caton Jones- it’s insane. I’m going to be the last one in London making films aside from stalwarts like Attenborough and Puttnam. It’s as if the government has finally won, that they’ve shattered everything, so the industry is in complete disarray and can only offer one-offs. l’m determined not to let that happen}
Fighting talk, butthen Stephen Woolley has never been one to let whatever remains of the British film industry rest on its rather insubstantial Iaurels. Co-iounder of the sadly deceased Palace Pictures and producer of such films as Scandal, A Rage In Harlem, The Company of Wolves and The Pope Must Die, Woolley has always had an eye for scripts that challenge comfortable British values and an admirable loyalty for these writers and directors willing to take cinematic risks now and again. This has led to live collaborations with Neil Jordan, the latest of which—The Crying Game - is undoubtedly the peak of their creative partnership, a bold movie that refuses to shy away from political, psychological and sexual dark alleys.
Palace produced some of the best (Mona Lisa) and some of the worst (Absolute Beginners). The company’s distribution arm brought to these shores the likes of The Evil Dead, Diva and When Harry Met Sally. Every time doom and gloom appeared on the
industry’s horizon, there was some sort -
at Palace release to keep heads high. Palace grew and diversified. And then, earlier this year, the company went into liquidation.
‘I'm pissed off with myself and Nik [Powell, Woolley’s partner at Palace] for not having seen the writing on the wall four or five years ago when we should have jettisoned the companies that brought us down,’ he explains. ‘Our distribution and production companies were making profits right to the end. We had these other smaller companies which were losing money all the time, but of course when we tried to sell them off, there was the recession and we couldn’t. We had a lot of calamitous ripples rather than the one big tidal wave happening. I have no anger with that- you have to sink or swim In the real world. However, lam
very angry that when Palace fizzled out, there was no reaction. Nobody gives a ' flying fuck about cinema culture In this I
5 form by the public, by the media or by ' the industry itself. But people do want to go to the cinemas and see British
subjects.’ It's this belief that UK audiences do have an appetite for British material
‘ ratherthan being force-fed American
cinema’s fast food that has encouraged Woolley and Powell to form Scala roductions, a new production company working under a ‘housekeeping deal’ with Polygram.
Scala has seven films in various stages g
of development, ranging from Jonathan Wild (another Jordan collaboration set in the London of the 18th century), to Dark Blood (directed by George Sluizer of The Vanishing fame) and a screen version of Brian
Friel’s play Translations. It seems to be 7 a case of lessons Ieamed, commitment
still intact: even the name indicates that the ostentatlons of the Palace regime have been set aside In favour of a back-to-roots approach - London’s Scala Cinema was where a young Woolley began his Industry career. And as he points out, ‘In Italian It means a ladder’. The Crying Game may be Palace's swansong, but it will provide a strong base for Woolley to start his new ascent, rung by rung.
“The-Li‘st 6— T9 NovemberulS’iSiZ 7