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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

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.