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The Crying Game is a 1992 Irish/British drama film written and directed by Neil Jordan. The film explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles. The original working title of the film was The Soldier's Wife.

The Crying Game is about the main character Fergus' (Stephen Rea) experiences as a member of the IRA, his brief but meaningful encounter with Jody (Forest Whitaker) who is held prisoner by the group, and his unexpected romantic relationship with Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) whom Fergus promised Jody he would protect. However, unexpected events force Fergus to decide what he wants for the future, and ultimately what his nature dictates that he must do.


The film begins as a psychological thriller, as IRA foot soldier Fergus and a unit of other IRA members, including a woman named Jude (Miranda Richardson) and led by Maguire, kidnap Jody, a British soldier. The IRA members demand the release of other jailed IRA and threaten to execute Jody in three days if their demands are not met.

While Fergus guards Jody, they develop a bond. Jody, in particular, tells him the story about the frog and the scorpion: the scorpion, wishing to cross a stream, asked the frog to let him ride his back over the stream. When the frog asked the scorpion how he could be sure that the scorpion would not sting him, the scorpion replied that if he did sting him, it would mean death by drowning for both of them. The frog complies, carrying the scorpion on its back across the stream. Before they reach the other side, however, the frog feels pain and realizes that the scorpion has stung him. He protests, "Why did you sting me, Mr. Scorpion? For now we both will drown!" The scorpion replies, "I can't help it, it's in my nature."

Jody persuades Fergus to meet his girlfriend, Dil, after he is killed and make sure she is all right. The deadline set by Jody's captors passes and Jody is to be executed. Fergus takes Jody into the woods to carry out the sentence, but cannot bring himself to shoot him, and Jody is instead accidentally run over and killed by British armoured personnel carriers when he attempts to flee across a road. Fergus hides from his IRA companions in London, where he takes a job as a day labourer with the alias "Jimmy". While in London, Fergus meets Jody's attractive girlfriend Dil at a hair salon. Later they talk in a bar, where the next evening he sees her singing "The Crying Game."

Fergus still suffers from guilt about Jody's death and sees him in his dreams bowling a cricket ball to him. He continues to pursue Dil, protecting her from an obsessive suitor and gradually falling in love with her. Later, when he is about to make love to her in her apartment, he discovers that she has a penis and is thus a transwoman. His initial reaction is of revulsion. Rushing to the bathroom to throw up, he accidentally hits Dil in the face, leaving a bruise, and leaving her on the floor by herself. A few days later Fergus leaves Dil a note, and the two make up. Fergus realizes he is still attracted to Dil.

Around the same time, Jude unexpectedly reappears in Fergus' apartment with a new mission for him: to aid in assassinating a well-known official. She also offhandedly mentions that she knows about Fergus and Dil, telling him to "forget about that girl."

Fergus, however, cannot overcome his compassion for Dil, who keeps on wooing him. He shields her from possible retribution by giving her a haircut and male clothes as a disguise. The night before the IRA mission is to be carried out, Dil gets heavily drunk and Fergus has to escort her to her apartment, where Dil asks for him to stay with her. Fergus complies, then admits to Dil that he had an indirect hand in her former boyfriend's death. Dil, drunk, appears not to have understood, but in the morning before Fergus wakes up, ties him to the bed. She unwittingly prevents him from joining the other IRA members and completing the planned assassination.

Holding Fergus at gunpoint, Dil forces him to tell her that he loves her and will never leave her. When Fergus does so, Dil unties him, saying that even if he's lying, it's still nice to hear his words. Dil then breaks into tears.

Just then, a vengeful Jude comes into their room with a gun, seeking to kill Fergus for missing the assassination. Dil quickly shoots her, realizing that she was complicit in Jody's death, and that she used her sexuality to trick him. After finishing her off, Dil then points the gun at Fergus, but lowers her hand, saying that she cannot kill him because Jody will not allow her to. Fergus prevents Dil from shooting herself, and tells her to hide out in the club for a while. When Dil is gone, he wipes her fingerprints off the gun, and allows himself to be arrested in place of Dil.

The epilogue takes place a few months later. Fergus, in prison, is visited by Dil. Dil, after talking with Fergus about plans once he gets out of jail, asks him why he took the fall for her in the first place. Fergus responds, "As a man once said, it's in my nature." He tells her the story of the frog and the scorpion that he heard from Jody.


Production and release

Jordan first drafted the screenplay for The Crying Game in the mid-1980s under the title The Soldier's Wife, but shelved the project after a similar film was released. He sought to begin production of the film in the early nineties, but found it difficult to secure financing. Potential investors were discouraged by his recent string of box office flops, as well as the difficult themes of the script.

The film went into production with an inadequate patchwork of funding, leading to a stressful and unstable filming process. The producers constantly searched for small amounts of money to keep the production going and pay disgruntled crew members.

The film was originally released in Ireland and the UK, where it failed at the box office. Director Neil Jordan, in later interviews, attributed this failure to the film's heavily political undertone, particularly its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA terrorist.

The then-fledgling film company Miramax decided to promote the film in the U.S.marker where it became a sleeper hit, earning nearly $60 million at the box office. A memorable advertising campaign generated intense public curiosity by asking audiences not to reveal the film's "secret" to their friends. Jordan also believed the film's success was a result of the film's British/Irish political issues being either lesser-known or completely unknown to American audiences, who thus flocked to the film for what Jordan called "the sexual politics."

The film won critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Actor in a Leading Role (for Rea), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Davidson) and Best Director. Writer-director Neil Jordan finally won the Oscar for his screenplay. The film went on to success around the world, including a re-release in Britainmarker and Irelandmarker.


The soundtrack to the film was produced by Anne Dudley and the Pet Shop Boys, and Boy George scored his first hit in years with his recording of the title song - a song that had been a hit in the 1960s for British singer Dave Berry. The closing rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" was performed by American singer Lyle Lovett. Scores 9 through 16 are orchestral, composed by Anne Dudley and performed by the Pro Arte Orchestra Of London.

The film's soundtrack was released on February 23, 1993 as The Crying Game: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album.

  1. "The Crying Game" - Boy George
  2. "When a Man Loves a Woman" - Percy Sledge
  3. "Live for Today" (Orchestral) - Cicero and Sylvia Mason-James
  4. "Let the Music Play" - Carroll Thompson
  5. "White Cliffs of Dover" - The Blue Jays
  6. "Live for Today" (Gospel) - Cicero
  7. "The Crying Game" - Dave Berry
  8. "Stand by Your Man" - Lyle Lovett
  9. "The Soldier's Wife"
  10. "It's in my Nature"
  11. "March to the Execution"
  12. "I'm Thinking of You"
  13. "Dies Irae"
  14. "The Transformation"
  15. "The Assassination"
  16. "The Soldier's Tale"

Reaction and criticism

Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating and described it as one that "involves us deeply in the story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether."

Gene Siskel, during Siskel and Ebert's annual "Memo to the Academy" program, gave away the ending of the film while giving his review.

Richard Corliss, in Time Magazine, stated "And the secret? Only the meanest critic would give that away, at least initially." The secret is revealed by forming a sentence from the first letter of each paragraph.


The film received 6 Academy Award nominations, winning only for Best Original Screenplay.
  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor - Stephen Rea
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jaye Davidson
  • Best Original Screenplay (win)
  • Best Film Editing

Pop culture

The plot twist of this movie had a significant impact on popular culture and, consequently, it was sporadically referenced and parodied in various media. It was revealed in both a sketch of the Robot Chicken episode "Vegetable Funfest" and in the episode "Marge in Chains" of The Simpsons, in which Mayor Quimby lets it slip during an election campaign.

In the episode "To Kill a Mocking Alan" of I'm Alan Partridge, Alan refers to the film, saying it is about "The woman with the old, er, tadger".

In the episode "The Doorman" of Seinfeld, George sees his father with his shirt off, and notices that he has breasts. Then he says that he threw up all night: It was "his own personal Crying Game".

The twist is described in the Father Ted episode "The Passion of St Tibulus", when two characters discuss the movie, mentioning that "he got his lad out".

In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, when the main character (Jim Carrey) deduces that the culprit is really a man posing as a woman, the song "The Crying Game" starts to play. In Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, Leslie Nielsen's character starts throwing up after discovering that Anna Nicole Smith's character has male genitalia.

In Rush Hour 3, when Noémie Lenoir's character takes her wig off to reveal a shaved head, Chris Tucker's character assumes she's in fact a man, exclaiming "It's The Crying Game."

The 1993 comedy Hot Shots Part Deux refers to the secret in the credits.

The film also inspired a 1994 television commercial for the men's underwear brand Hom. In the ad, a man picks up what appears to be a beautiful woman in a bar. Later in her bedroom, she removes her skirt to reveal she is actually a male wearing men's underwear. Her date reacts positively while the words ,"Underneath it all, I'm still a man," appear superimposed over the underwear.

In the episode "The Melty Man Cometh" of the BBC series Coupling, Jeff tells Patrick in a dream sequence, "Don't think about The Crying Game," while Patrick tries to overcome his temporary impotence.

See also


  1. Ebert, Roger. Review of The Crying Game. December 18, 1992.
  2. Corliss, Richard. Queuing For The Crying Game Jan. 25, 1993
  3. The Commercial Closet. "The Pick Up", The Commercial Closet, 1994

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