The Crying Game serves as a historical snapshot, reflecting how even solidly made thrillers can become subverted by damaging stereotypes – as evidenced in Jordan’s treatment of Dil, its transgender protagonist.
Early in the film, Dil is presented as a mysterious figure who intrigues Fergus with her aura of unpredictability. But then comes the big reveal – she’s pre-op!
IRA Volunteer Fergus (Stephen Rea)
This riveting psychological thriller chronicles an agent of the Irish Republican Army as they realize that not everyone they encounter is who they appear to be. Fergus (Stephen Rea) is an IRA volunteer who, despite his reservations, participates in kidnapping Jody (Forest Whitaker), an African British soldier stationed in Northern Ireland. The IRA plans on using Jody as a bargaining chip; while in Fergus’ care, he quickly forms an affinity and promises that after the operation is completed, he’ll look in on Dil (Jaye Davidson). When something happens during said operation, and Jody escapes, Fergus cannot bring himself to shoot him. He flees London, where he assumes an assumed Scottish identity and starts over, hoping that one-day Dil will come calling again.
At first glance, The plot of The Crying Game may appear to focus on Fergus’ difficult moral choices in response to violence and exploitation; however, at its core lies much larger themes: oppressive political environments, as well as personal trauma, can impact on an individual’s mental state, eventually turning him into someone monstrous despite otherwise normal circumstances.
Rea delivers a fantastic performance as Fergus, the romantic yet kindhearted soldier whose lack of ruthlessness propels him through political and personal minefields alike. His eyes reflect deep sadness from the conflict; his interactions with Jody reveal that there can still be space for compassion and understanding even amid violent, terrifying circumstances.
However, The Crying Game comes alive during its second act. Dil’s revelation as a transgender woman is powerful and dynamic; however, her introduction causes her initial reaction to Fergus to be disgust rather than compassion, which may reflect societal expectations. However, it does lessen some of its impact. Their relationship elevates this film to something truly outstanding and insightful cinema.
Jody (Forest Whitaker)
Forest Whitaker portrayed Jody, the captive British soldier, in the 1992 film The Crying Game. Whitaker played him as a solid and brave soldier whose commitment to his country came at a significant cost; Variety applauded his performance as memorable and influential, calling it both “big-hearted” and “hugely emotional.”
After Jude (Miranda Richardson) and Maguire (Adrian Dunbar) kidnap Jody, baby-faced IRA volunteer Fergus Hennessy forms an unlikely bond with him. Jody tells him of a woman named Dil (Jaye Davidson) back home. Learning they may never see each other again, Jody asks Fergus to visit her. Fergus agrees on one condition – that they escape their captors first. Unfortunately, Jody’s attempt at freedom ends tragically when an armored personnel carrier runs over him during a rescue attempt by Fergus Hennessy and Fergus Hennessy.
The Crying Game is an emotional tale about Ireland and England at war that explores race, terrorism, and war. One particularly moving scene features Jody in a white kilt running across a field to meet up with an isolated British soldier; when she does, an emotional shootout ensues that brings to life all sides’ horrors of war.
Whitaker has long been celebrated for his ability to portray emotionally complex and nuanced roles, from dramatic films like Bird and Intimate Apparel to comedies, musicals, and comedies. Known for both, he has received multiple accolades, including an Oscar nomination and Tony Awards (for Intimate Apparel and Door to Door), among many more awards for his performances.
After transitioning into directing in the late ’90s, Whitaker made significant advances in film. He produced and starred in Deacons of Defense before going on to run and star in Showtime’s original movie The Butler. Additionally, he appeared in several episodes of Empire, where Lee Daniels reunited after their work on The Butler; Whitaker continued his prolific acting career, appearing in various movies and television shows, including the upcoming Apple TV show Extrapolations, which examines climate change’s future effects.
Dil (Jaye Davidson)
The Crying Game remains one of the first major films to include transgender characters and continues to generate praise and controversy over three decades after its debut. A box-office hit and winner of an Academy Award for scriptwriting, its story follows an Irish Republican Army agent named Fergus who forms an unlikely bond with British soldier Jody, who is taken hostage; they form an unlikely bond and pledge their allegiance until something unexpected transpires that changes Fergus’ views on love and loyalty forever.
Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of Dil in The Shape of Water is groundbreaking and controversial. To preserve the impact of its plot twist and avoid spoiling it for audiences, early promotions kept secret that she was biologically male – something many viewers felt cheated out of experiencing the full force and impact of. This decision proved controversial, and many viewers felt cheated of its impactful surprise.
Even with all its controversy, The Crying Game remains an excellent film. It captures the tension of nationalist conflict while providing an exciting look into its period, showing how one movie can serve both functions effectively – as both thriller and social commentary. Dil’s depiction has left an indelible mark on how we perceive transgender people onscreen.
The film’s provocative ending has reignited many discussions on how films depict and treat transgender characters. One scene where Dil undresses for her lover was controversial due to requiring full frontal nudity that revealed her gender to viewers; at the time, it was intended to shock and surprise audiences.
While this scene may be shocking and thought-provoking, it can also be seen as an exploitative depiction of Dil’s gender. While director Neil Jordan may be an incredible filmmaker, their portrayal of Dil doesn’t match how most people see this community today.
Although Davidson is best known for her role in The Crying Game, she has also appeared in other movies, such as science fiction/fantasy flicks such as Stargate. Additionally, Davidson is a fashion designer for various magazines and Tommy Hilfiger.
Davidson was born and raised in California before moving to England, of British and African heritage. She was discovered at an acting wrap party for Derek Jarman’s Edward II film. She went on to win several awards – nominating for an Academy Award nomination and other accolades. Later, retiring from acting, she focused her energy on fashion; today, she has an estimated net worth of $80 Million.