The Man Who Cried

There are two men who ultimately cry in The Man Who Cried, and maybe it is because they were watching the movie they are in. Writer/director Sally Potter (Orlando, The Tango Lesson) puts for a weak effort, with a wandering story and little real emotion. It's a shame too, because the four principal actors, Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, and John Turturro would cast an imposing presence in most other films. Here, they either take roles that do not play towards their strengths, have little to say, or say really bad things (or any combination of the aforementioned).

Suzie (Ricci, 200 Cigarettes, Sleepy Hollow) is an orphan. At a young age, her father went to America to find work, and her mother died when their village burnt to the ground. She is Jewish, but has idea that she is. She has no idea where she is from, all she has is a photograph of her father and a desire to find him in America. Foster parents raise her in England, and he ends up in Paris with Lola (Blanchett, The Gift, The Talented Mr. Ripley), a Russian. From Lola, Suzie realizes that she is Russian, and begins to realize her true heritage. Lola and Suzie work in an opera company, and Lola falls for Dante Domino (Turturro, The Luzhin Defence, Company Man), the lead singer. Cesar (Depp, Chocolat, Blow), a gypsy, intrigues her, and she falls for him.

So what about her father? Potter conveniently forgets this aspect of Suzie's life, while she deals with the love stories. The problem is that Suzie's motive is to find her identity and family. By ignoring the most important aspect of her life, Potter cheapens Suzie. She is attracted to Cesar because she sees familiarity in his actions and his way of life. The Man Who Cried takes place in the beginnings of World War II. As Hitler advances into Poland, Jewish people around Suzie lose rights and disappear. She realizes that she is one of them, and in a great deal of danger. She empathizes with the discrimination against Cesar and his family, which helps to draw them close together. After a whole lot of nothing, Potter returns to Suzie's quest. But Potter flubs this badly. The end of the movie feels as if it was tacked on. It happens abruptly, seems arbitrary, and has little emotion.

In movies like this, stellar acting can make it seem better than it is. Alas, the acting is not up to par. Ricci and Depp are some of the best actors around, but they specialize in roles that are way out there. Suzie and Cesar are too conventional for them. For Depp, this is the first gypsy role he played since, gosh, Chocolat. Only this time, he has about seven lines, which he delivers nearly at the end. Suzie is too bland and uninteresting for Ricci, who seems content to stare wistfully for much of the movie. Blanchett has an exaggerated Russian accent, blood red lipstick, and clammy white skin. Apparently, nobody told her this wasn't a vampire movie. Music is a central element to The Man Who Cried, and Turturro valiantly lip-syncs his way from song to song. He also has little to do, and comes off as annoying, like most of the rest of the movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R for sexuality.

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