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The Man Who Cried (R)

Universal Focus
Official Site
Director: Sally Potter
Producer: Christopher Sheppard
Written by: Sally Potter
Cast: Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Harry Dean Stanton, John Turturro, Claudia Lander-Duke, Oleg Yankovsky

Rating: out of 5

The latest project by Sally Potter of ORLANDO fame, THE MAN WHO CRIED is a sweeping historical tale that explores the devastating effects of war on people who lose their homes, families, and even their identities.

The year is 1927. Fegele (Lander-Duke) is a little Jewish girl in Russia whose beloved father (Yankovsky) goes to America to seek a better life for his family. Before he can send for her, the violence of the pogroms descends upon them and the villagers are forced to flee the country. Fate separates Fegele from her guardians and puts her on a boat for England instead of America, where the foster system strips her of her name and heritage and christens her “Suzie”.

Suzie grows up to be a melancholy young woman (Ricci) who uses her ability to sing to gain a job as a showgirl in Paris, where she saves her money to buy a ticket to America. There she is befriended by Lola (Blanchett), an ambitious Russian dancer who sees men as her ticket out. Suzie and Lola get jobs in an opera company where Lola latches onto the lead singer, Dante (Turturro). Suzie becomes entranced with Cesar (Depp), a gypsy horse-handler in the production, whose similar outsider status draws them together.

The Nazis invade Paris, and begin rounding up the Jews and gypsies. When Dante betrays Suzie to the Nazis, Lola leaves him and secures passage for her friend and herself to America. Suzie wants to stay and fight with Cesar, but he convinces her to leave for her own safety and to seek out her father. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship is bombed. Suzie is rescued, but Lola drowns.

Once in America, Suzie searches for her father, and ends up finding all that had been lost to her amidst the palm trees of Hollywood.

THE MAN WHO CRIED is a beautiful film, lovingly shot on locations across Europe. Cate Blanchett and John Turturro give strong performances, and command each scene they are in. However, the story lacks a driving storyline. Suzie’s search for her father, her relationship with Lola, her romance with Cesar—none of these is allowed to take the lead and be fully expressed or explored. During one disconcertingly long period, Suzie virtually disappears as the movie shifts to focus entirely on the courtship of Lola and Dante.

Worst of all, the historical events that surround the characters are glossed over, with little explanation or context for the average viewer. This serves to diminish the enormity of the war and the tragic impact it had on both the characters in the movie and the people of the world.

THE MAN WHO CRIED is clearly an ambitious film that failed to live up to the lofty goals of its creators.

—Sandhya Shardanand

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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