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by sophie mount | october, 2001

The Man Who Cried

A little Russian-Jewish Girl's search for her father, which takes her initially to England and then to Paris where she dances and sings to earn enough money to travel to America, to find her Father. As she travels, she meets many people who are similarly out of place, some who love her, some who help her, some who use her and some who betray her.

In the late 1920's, Fegele's Father goes to America to find work with the intention of sending for his mother and Fegele (Claudia Lander-Duke) when he has enough money. His plan is ruined when Fegele's village is ransacked and she is bundled off with neighbours who are travelling to America, but Fegele is put on the wrong boat and finds herself in England. She is placed with a foster family and has her name changed to Suzie. She must learn the language, and does so through singing, after a music teacher hears her singing.

As soon as she is old enough, Suzie (now Cristina Ricci) moves to Paris, wanting to earn enough money to travel to America and find her Father. She dances and sings for a living and meets Cesar, a gypsy, (Johnny Depp) Lola, a Russian dancer (Cate Blanchett) and Dante an arrogant tenor (John Turturro). Lola gets herself and Suzie a part in Dante's opera and then Lola becomes Dante's lover in the hope of bettering her career and gaining security. Suzie falls for the stoic and unassuming Cesar and finds more solace with him and his family than with Lola and the ever self-obsessing Dante.

Dante discovers that Suzie is Jewish and betrays her (in front of Lola) to the increasing Nazi presence. Lola realises that she must leave Dante and offers Suzie a ticket to go to America with her. Suzie is forced to decide between staying with her lover and risking persecution or leaving to try and find her father in an enormous country.

Ricci is excellent and is re-teamed with Depp after Sleepy Hollow, but again they suit each other perfectly. Depp's sultry character and mean facial scars still cannot detract from his beauty (yes, I am biased), but both Depp's and Ricci's characters convey in a mere facial expression, what Blanchett and Turturro's characters say in half an hour. Turturro is consummate as the disdainful singer and plays well to Blanchett's character. Lola is a confused woman and Blanchett is impressive as the over made-up showgirl.

The Man Who Cried is a moving and visually stunning film from beginning to end, with an excellent score to accompany it. One scene, where the young Fegele plays in the woods with her father before he leaves, is simple but particularly effective. The theme of displacement and loss runs throughout the film and touches each character that Fegele meets. So much so, that the audience is frequently in doubt as to whether the girl will ever have a chance of a happy life and to the end that perhaps the film should be subtitled 'The Men Who Cried'.

Dir: Sally Potter
Producer: Christopher: Sheppard
Screenplay: Sally Potter
DoP: Sacha Vierny A.C.E.
Principal Cast: Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Johnny Depp.
Dist: UIP
Country: UK/USA
Year: 2000
Length: 97 mins

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