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
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
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.
Suzies search for her father, her relationship with
Lola, her romance with Cesarnone 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
THE MAN WHO CRIED is clearly an ambitious film that failed
to live up to the lofty goals of its creators.