In a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon—minus the Kevin Bacon part—The Crying Game is separated from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho by just one degree. What is the immediate connection between these two wildly dissimilar films?
The Crying Game became the most surprising sleeper hit the year on the back of its many secrets and revelations. It became a classic because of the way it seamlessly integrated those shocks into a larger narrative. When thinking about the surprises of The Crying Game, one immediately springs to mind, but it is worth remembering that within the context of the period of its release, another almost equally jarring shock had already occurred. In the early 1990’s the most recognizable face and name in the cast outside Ireland and England was Forrest Whitaker. While Whitaker was hardly a big star, he was unquestionably more recognizable than Stephen Rea. Even if that later revelation had never been part of the story, the moment when Forrest Whitaker’s character gets run over by tank would still have put the film among a very select few—led by Psycho—which completely subverted convention Hollywood rues of filmmaking by brutally killing off a major character halfway through. While Whitaker was hardly in the same league as Janet Leigh as far as stardom goes, he was without question the central character in the plot at the time of his unexpected demise. And the death of his character is actually even more shocking than that of Marion Crane in Psycho because he broke free from his captor whom the audience knows is not going to shoot him—especially when the equivalent of the western trope of the cavalry arriving at the last minute to save the hero is also taking place. Everything in the seconds leading up to the moment of Whitaker’s death points toward one seemingly inevitable outcome: he has to be rescued by the British troops because if he’s not, where can he movie possibly go from that point?
Knowing what you know about Fergus from what the movie shows, how would you expect him to have ever gotten involved with the IRA?
Fergus is very much like the scorpion in the fable that is told twice in the film. He follows his nature. He never demonstrates the capacity to hold fast to an extremist ideology that drives radicals like the rest of his little cadre of IRA soldiers. He’s not a planner; he lives in the moment. The ease with which he moves into a relationship with Dil as a trans woman instead of the biological woman he was first attracted to reveals him to be a person of great adaptability but little capacity of long-term strategic planning. From the minute first finds himself alone with Jody, he sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the IRA members. He is out of step with that crowd just like he is out of step with his construction co-workers just like he is out of step with the patrons of the club in which Dil performs her act. He just is not a joiner and so from the outset it is strange if not downright bizarre that he has become so actively involved with this IRA crowd. There seems only one obvious answer to this mystery: he, too, fell under Jude’s spell and got recruited for no other reason than he wanted to keep seeing her. Fergus is not the type of guy who would join the IRA because of a passion to fight for Irish independence, but he is quite obviously the type of guy who would be willing to put up with IRA soldiering to near the woman he desired.
Was Jody setting Fergus up to be taken in by Dil the whole time?
When Jody first brings up the issue of his girlfriend Dil with Fergus, it can be taken as part of a strategy doubtlessly taught all British soldiers stationed in Ireland to do whatever is necessary to insinuate yourself with a captor on the premise that it is harder for them to murder an individual than a symbol. Jody seems to have learned his lessons well; he is manipulating Fergus brilliantly to the point of even getting him to pull his penis out with his hand so that he may urinate while handcuffed. Everything about the conversations taking place between Dil and Jody point to nothing more insidious than Jody doing what he’s been taught in order to survive. Clearly, Fergus comes to believe it was more, however. His dreams of Jody in his cricket uniform once he’s begun “seeing” the dead man’s girlfriend reveal either a guilty conscience, a suspicious “nature” or, perhaps, both. If one bases an opinion solely on the change in Jody’s behavior in the third dream Fergus has—after the “big reveal”—then it is easy to assume Jody may well have been playing a more complex psychological battle with Fergus. Until that third dream, however, there is not a whole lot to indicate that Jody was moving past the state of prisoner manipulation of captor for the sake of survival and into the far more treacherous waters of totally messing with that captor’s head. However, since this is The Crying Game where anything can happen, who really knows?
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