5 April 2014

Bradford International Film Festival: The Man Who Cried (2000)


Genre:
Drama, Romance,
Rating:15
Watched:
2nd April 2014
Venue:
Bradford International Film Festival
Director:
Sally Potter
Cast:
Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, Oleg Yankovskiy, Pablo Verón

Odd as it may seem, and when considering the last film I reviewed was The Tango Lesson, I want to start this piece by mentioning Sally Potter’s fascination with dance. If you was not aware, she was a choreographer and dancer in the ‘70s and all her films, up to this point, have featured dancing in them. From the tap dance scene in The Gold Diggers to the tango which features prominently in The Tango Lesson. And now, in keeping with this tradition, we have Pablo Verón making an appearance as a gypsy dancer at a bar. The scene feels out of place but then so much of the film does. Potter as mentioned the loss of artistic control she encountered on this project and I believe 22 scenes had to be cut. One can only imagine what might have become of the film without studio interference but we can only critique what we have in front of us and there is no doubt that The Man Who Cried is a big departure from those early films.

The film unfolds over three decades from the 1920s to the 1940s, following Jewish immigrant Fegele (Claudia Lander-Duke) as she flees persecution in Russia and sets out in search for her father who left to find work in America. She ends up in England where she is forbidden to speak Yiddish and grows up as Suzie, becoming Christina Ricci in the process. Moving to Paris to become a performer, she finds herself caught up in the ensuing war where her Jewish ancestry becomes an issue, so she flees for America to find her father. For Potter the film is about survival, she has said that it is a celebration of those who lived through the Holocaust, “what I wanted to do was make a film about the fact the Holocaust didn't win,” she said. But perhaps it is identity that resonates more, Suzie, after all, is in search of hers, trying to reconnect with an identity that was taken from her as a child. Still, whatever the intention, it is a shame that the film does not quite work. Despite this, the quality of the filmmaking does shine through with legendary cinematographer Sacha Vierny’s visuals being a delight.

★★½☆☆

Shane James


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