The Man Who Cried

"Weak"

The Man Who Cried Review


An erratically emotional saga of a young Russian refugee's sidetracked search for her father, Sally Potter's "The Man Who Cried" presents such a haunting and moving first act that the balance of the story seems steadily to decline.

After its flash-forward title sequence that unnecessarily reveals a pivotal moment of the last act, story proper opens in a Jewish farming village in 1927 Russia, where a beautiful little girl is playing hide-and-seek in the tall grass with her adoring father, unaware that he is about to leave for America, hoping to find work then send for his family.

The girl's life soon changes from blithe to melancholy, as she doesn't understand why her father is going away. Then her life becomes downright terrifying as the village is attacked and burned, and to save her life the girl's mother forces her to run away.

In these early scenes the film has a vivid sense of place and an even more acute atmosphere of danger and displacement. But most remarkable is the astonishing performance of 5-year-old Claudia Lander-Duke, whose wide, intelligent eyes embody total innocence and joy in her first scenes, somatic sadness and bewilderment at her father's departure, and an intense mix of fear and courage as she is engulfed and overwhelmed by war.

After this first act wraps up with the girl becoming an orphan in England (and named Suzie by adpotive parents), the film fast forwards roughly 15 years and Christina Ricci takes over the role. Ricci has Suzie's troubled-and-melancholy disposition down pat, but she seems notably vacant considering all this character has been through and doesn't have half the intensity and substance of the remarkable little Lander-Duke. As a result "The Man Who Cried" loses much of its emotional impact right then and there.

The story, however, remains interesting for a while. When she's old enough to strike out on her own, Suzie becomes a chorus girl in a Paris opera (her beautiful singing voice has been an occasional theme since the opening scenes), hoping to save enough money to go to America and begin searching for her father.

But once in Paris, Potter's direction becomes borderline pretentious, full of ostentatious visual symbolism, while elements of the plot go the Harlequin route.

Our heroine finds herself falling for Cesar (Johnny Depp at his most histrionically smoldering), an over-romanticized, sensitive, sexy gypsy (deja vu "Chocolat") who enkindles Suzie's womanhood both figuratively and literally while riding a white horse through the foggy streets in fanciful sequences, shirt unbuttoned and long hair aflow.

Of course, on the eve of the German invasion, being a Jew in love with a gypsy can be nothing but trouble.

An irritating impediment of "The Man Who Cried" is that the romance and the drama often seem insincere and overwrought because of Potter's chimerical cinematic techniques. Such dreamlike allusions worked fine in her fantastic and far less literal 1992 film "Orlando," but here they seem forced.

Yet another problem is that the supporting cast outshines Ricci and Depp, who don't give bad performances per se, but just come across as hired players in roles with half-formed personalities.

Cate Blanchett, on the other hand, is fabulously tawdry as Suzie's flamboyant fair-weather friend Lola -- an ambitious Russian dancer of questionable talent whose only interest is becoming the mistress of the opera's star, an egomaniacal Italian tenor played strongly and with seething arrogance by John Turturro.

Lola's friendship changes with the wind -- in this case the winds of war -- and when her meal ticket reveals himself to be an Axis sympathizer, she puts Suzie in more danger by revealing to Turturro that Suzie is a Jew.

Potter's grip on the film's narrative is a bit slippery, and she's too enamoured of showy irony, like the scene in which Turturro's thunderous opera performance is juxtaposed with a vague scene of soldiers routing the encampment of Cesar's gypsy family.

Such problems are not enough to ruin "The Man Who Cried," but as the film wears on, they do add up.

What is enough to ruin it is the fact that Suzie seems to forget her original goal of finding her father until an epilogue in which she flees occupied France for America and a finale that veers absurdly into Shirley Temple territory.



The Man Who Cried

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th December 2000

Distributed by: Universal Focus

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 45

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Suzie, as Cesar, as Lola, as Dante Dominio

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Advertisement
Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

With a sweeping, picturesque setting and emotive performances, this dramatic epic will appeal to moviegoers...

The Accountant Movie Review

The Accountant Movie Review

While this slick dramatic thriller plays with some intriguing ideas and themes, it never actually...

Train to Busan Movie Review

Train to Busan Movie Review

Leave it to the Koreans to reinvent the zombie horror movie and put a high-speed...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.