The Man Who Cried
dir-scr Sally Potter
with Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Harry Dean Stanton, Oleg Yankovskiy, Claudia Lander-Duke, Miriam Karlin, Hana Maria Pravda, Alan David, Diana Hoddinott
release UK 8.Dec.00; US 13.Apr.01
Universal 00/UK 1h28 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Girl without a country. A Russian Jew raised in London and now living in Paris, Suzie (Ricci) dreams of finding her father in America...
With a real depth of character and theme, Sally Potter's latest film can't help but get your mind spinning. Alas, it never really grabs hold of your heart, even though it tries! The story centres on people who have had their home culture taken from them and are forced to struggle for their survival. The main character is a little girl (Lander-Duke, a real discovery) in the late 1920s who is driven from her home in a tiny Russian village and lands in Britain, where she's given a new name, Suzie, and is forbidden from speaking or singing in Yiddish. Years later Suzie (now played by Ricci) gets a job as a dancer in Paris, surrounded by misplaced people like herself--a chatty Russian flatmate (Blanchett), a vain Italian tenor (Turturro) and a Gypsy horseman boyfriend (Depp). All the while Suzie carries with her memories of her long lost father (Yankovsky) who may be waiting for her in America. And the Nazis are advancing through Europe.

There's such a rich motherload of material in this story, and Potter blends in lovely images and music, so it seems cruel to complain about the way the film is made. But the production design strikes the wrong chord early on--nothing seems quite real or lived-in. It's contrived perfection with every stick of furniture and every bit of set decoration exactly where you'd expect it to be, even in the tumbledown Gypsy camp. And there are problems with the accents too--almost ridiculous cartoon dialects that are eventually transcended by these fine actors, but only barely. (Depp also has to overcome a bad fake tan.) All of these things conspire to undermine the film, making it feel artificial and stilted just when it should be moving us to tears along with all the male characters.

[12--themes, sexual situations] 24.Nov.00

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"I thought this a beautiful and moving film. The photography was spectacular and the early scenes depicting the separation of the family were powerful and heart wrenching. Depp is as seductive and accomplished as usual, and Blanchett plays her role with conviction. A fantastic must-see film for fans of Johnny Depp. I saw it some months ago and I am still recommending it, it has had a lasting effect on me!" --Rachel Baker, Newcastle 31.Aug.01

2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall