"The Man Who Cried" is a feast for the eyes and ears alike. One recent review called it "the art-house companion to Moulin Rouge," and that doesn't seem too far off. The film begins with Fegele and her father in 1927 Russia, with a beautifully photographed game of hide and seek. Fearing for his family's safety, her father sends her away to America, but Fegele ends up in England by mistake, is renamed Suzie and is raised by a grim British couple. The scenes of the Russian shtetl are grim, and colour truly doesn't become pronounced until we see the cabaret shows of Paris, the gaudy costumes and headdresses and the opera sets.
Suzie (Christina Ricci) runs into fellow showgirl Lola (Cate Blanchett) and the two room together, locking horns over Italian sensation Dante, the main draw at the theatre, who also happens to be a fascist. Lola gets her way and her man. Enter one very mysterious, brooding Gypsy horseman (Johnny Depp, reprising his role from Chocolat) who captures Suzie's heart. This entire whirlwind of music, passion and drama occurs on the eve of World War Two, and Suzie is in danger of being discovered as Jewish.
The cinematography is gorgeous, with washed-out colours in Russia, beautiful cityscapes of Paris (especially the bike/horse chase at night!), gaudily bright costumes and opera sets, the exotic colour, music and flair of the Gypsy camp and costumes. The colour brings to mind the brilliant Technicolour prints of the earlier days, with vibrant, surreal colours.
The soundtrack is equally stunning, with contributions by newcomer Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra, the Kronos Quartet, the Gypsy ensemble Taraf de Haidouks, and Czech songstress Iva Bittova providing the voice for Christina Ricci. The operatic selections by Bizet, Puccini, Purcell, and Verdi are balanced by original score (the stunning "Close Your Eyes" is the most beautiful song in the movie) and frantic Gypsy music. Bittova's "Gloomy Sunday" is a delightful study in atmosphere, and appropriately sets the tone for an onscreen event near the end of the film.
"The Man Who Cried" is an unusual, beautiful, and touching glimpse at a decadent Europe on the brink of war, the vibrant Gypsy culture, the Jewish shtetls of Russia, and the world of opera, all intertwined with romance and connections to the past.
on June 2, 2002
...while I was still eating the main course! That's how I felt about this movie.
It's so beautiful, I WANTED to love it. I'm a Depp fan, and he and Ricci make a lovely couple. Cate Blanchett is looking her best, and the plot is interesting.
Fegele is a young Jewish woman who has been separated from her family as a child. Raised in England by distant foster parents, she longs to go to America to find her father, but has to earn enough money first. Along the way, she meets a smolderingly handsome gypsy (Depp), a kindhearted Russian gold-digger (Blanchett), and a very self-centered Italian opera singer (Turturro). Meanwhile, the Nazi menace is approaching, and it's no good time to be a Jew in Europe. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, you don't get a chance to really grab hold of this movie. Characters don't do much talking (well, except the opera singer, but who wants to hear him rant?). There's a lot of dialogue conducted via soulful looks and silent reproaches. All very nicely done, but it's up to you to figure out what characters are really thinking and feeling.
But here's thing that really bugged me: The ending. If you like to have the loose ends all tied up when the credits roll, you'll be disappointed. I felt the ending was rushed, and could've easily done with another 30 minutes or so. Instead, I was left wondering what would've happened next. If you don't mind that, rent the movie and enjoy it.
on April 8, 2005
This film is for those Johnny Depp fans who were not fans of his during his days as a young Tom Hanson in 21 JumpStreet. He plays a brooding, sexy gypsy, with little dialogue and big expressive eyes, who roughly takes Christina Ricci's virginity in a dirty, torn armchair after sending her smoldering looks from the back of his white stallion. His departure from the movie leaves a very anticlimactic feeling, as we continue to follow Ricci's character Susie after she has walked away from the feigning-sleep Depp character. Our last glimpse of Depp's character Cesar, opening his eyes at her departure, left me thinking that the film was over, as I stopped caring what happened to Susie, Lola( Cate Blanchett) and Dante (John Turturro), and focused on what I imagined his fate would be as a gypsy in Nazi-occupied Paris. This movie, writen and directed by Sally Potter, clearly exploits the fantasy of the sexuality of handsome gypsy men, and left me (a 40-something yr. old academic who should know better) daydreaming of Cesar and I riding off on his horse. The young girl who plays Ricci as a child, distanced from her father and torn from her whole world life, is very touching to watch, and I cried as she smashed photos in her new foreign home. My biggest complaint about this film is that while Depp can act just by blinking his eyes, Ricci's similar acting style did not seem as convincing to me, and I waited for her to show more expression in her huge, blank, puppy-dog eyes. She did not seem as convincing in her role as Depp, Blanchett and Turturro did in theirs, and I was painfully embarrassed at her singing, which was mentioned throughout the film as if it was spectacular (it most definitely was not)! This is a film that shows another side of Depp, and those who only think of him as Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, or Captain Jack Sparrow should watch this for his final scene with Ricci, where he speaks volumes by remaining silent, and left me sighing with longing for this wonderful character.
on September 5, 2003
Man Who Cried has wonderfully lush cinematography throughout, but is very slow paced. Although the film starts in Russia, the main action of the film doesn't begin until Suzie (Ricci) arrives in Paris and gets a job with the opera company. If I had been in the editor's chair, I would have opened the story in Paris, introduced our heroine as the newly hired member of the company, and brought out her history in conversations with the other characters. Cate Blanchett has the best role in the movie as Russian dancer, Lola. John Turturro gives a good performance as the sleazy Italian opera singer and Johnny Depp is excellent in the small role of Cesar, the brooding Gypsy horse trainer Suzie falls in love with. Depp is one of those actors who can speak volumes with just a twitch of his cheek muscles. I would add that I thought Suzie/Cesar's love scenes were well-handled. For my money, the most touching moment of the film was when Cesar (Depp) weeps over his sleeping lover (Ricci) whom he knows he will never see again. Ricci, while a competent actress, has very little to do here except look pensive and long-suffering. My advice on the film: rent, but don't buy.
on October 21, 2004
The #1 best thing about this movie is that Johnny Depp is in it. He has that transcendent, magical ability to give a performance that elevates any movie in which he appears. The #2 best thing is the attention lavished on production values particularly cinematography and art direction. Visually the film can be stunning; it has a romantic otherworldly aura. Now it is the story that doesn't quite work. Did this movie start out as one thing and evolve into something else? Is this a movie about people caught in cataclysmic circumstances beyond their control or the story of doomed lovers? I couldn't make up my mind. Neither one of these premises stands on its own and here woven together just doesn't quite hang.
It is disappointing that the characters are not fully realized and little more than stereotypes; the searching waif, the seductive gypsy, the blonde gold digger with a heart of gold, the temperamental, self-enamored opera star. The title itself though provocative seems an after- thought. Yes, Cesar the gypsy cries when he and Susie part under desperate circumstances, and his tears emphasize the poignancy of the separation, but this part of the scene seems tacked on, and gratuitous.
Which leads me into the main problem with this movie. Throughout it suffers from the palatable lack of chemistry between Johnny Depp and Cristina Ricci. There is just no heat between these two which makes the love story difficult to buy. (For doubters of this phenomenon I refer you to their pairing in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow").
The Man Who Cried is not an entire washout. The story has some sentimental charm and John Turturro and Cate Blanchett are always worth watching. And as for Johnny Depp...he's worth watching any old time.
on August 30, 2002
"The Man Who Cried" is a handsome, episodic film which has several visually brilliant moments and some fine performances. It does not ultimately, however, add up to a particularly satisfying emotional whole. The script by Sally Potter, who also directed, tries to cover too many events occurring over a period of at least twenty years.
The movie begins in rural Russia where a little Jewish girl named Suzie lives in a village with her father and grandmother. The father leaves her behind to seek a better life in America. He promises to send for her, but violence and warfare come to her region, and she winds up a refugee in England. All she has left is a tattered photograph of her father. She is taken in by a middleclass family. She learns to sing and dance, but she never feels the joy those talents can bring. As a young adult [played by Christina Ricci], she decided to go to Paris. She meets Lola [Cate Blanchett], a beautiful, tempestuous fellow Russian expatriate. They become friends and roommates. Lola sets her sights on famous opera singer [John Turturro], while Suzie's heart is stolen by a gypsy [Johnny Depp]. The snobbish, bigoted opera star doesn't like the fact that Suzie runs around with such lowlife. He also taunts her for being Jewish. When the Nazis invade Paris, her life becomes increasingly chaotic. If only she can find a way to make it to America...
Christina Ricci, one of our finest and most adventurous young actresses, is excellent. Hers is a difficult role because she has so few lines to speak and must convey a great deal through body language and facial expressions. The great Cate Blanchett is given plenty to say and says it all with her usual finesse. Johnny Depp and John Turturro make the most of their smaller but important roles.
Perhaps the greatest contribution is made by Sacha Vierny, whose masterful cinematography goes a long way in masking the deficiencies in Ms. Potter's script.
on April 8, 2007
"The Man Who Cried" starts, literally, from a child's point of view, and even as it pulls back to follow her journey to young adulthood, it never loses the child's sense of life's mystery and enigma. The first few minutes of the movie establish, with very few words and notable compression, the central events, beginning in the late 1920s, of a little Russian Jewish girl's early life, her separation from her father (who emigrates to America) and the violent circumstances under which she leaves her home and arrives in England. The little girl who started life as Fegele finds herself with a new name, Suzie, in an alien world where the only familiar sight is the gypsies who pass by her school. This, a photograph of her father, and the memory of the songs he sang are all that is left to her of her old life. The desire to reach America to find her father never leaves her.
Suzie (played as an adult by Christina Ricci) matures into a pretty girl with a lovely voice who leaves England to become a showgirl in Paris, where she meets Lola (Cate Blanchett), a Russian emigree, Dante (John Turturro), an Italian tenor, and most important, Cesar (Johnny Depp), a Gypsy horseman whose center is as still as hers. The lives of these characters interweave as the Germans approach, then occupy Paris. Suzie must decide whether to use the ticket Lola has given her to reach America, or to stay in occupied Paris.
The first minutes of this film are as good as any I've ever seen. (Claudia Lander-Duke, who plays Fegele/Suzie as a child, is particularly moving.) Though I don't think the movie subsequently ever again quite equals these moments (or that the plot quite supports itself toward the end), the haunting, almost dreamlike, atmosphere created by the wonderful photography, and the central relationship of Suzie and Cesar make the film well worth watching.
I am not usually a fan of the 'gentler genre', but The Man Who Cried is an extraordinary tale of pre-war life and love. Little Fegele is sent away by her father to go to America where she will be safe, but Fegele winds out in England instead, where she is renamed Suzie and raised as English instead of the Russian Jew that she is. Suzie (Christina Ricci) remembers her father singing, and when she comes of age, she leaves for Paris to be near the theaters.
She meets Lola (Cate Blanchett) and the two girls decide to room together. They are friends, though watching them is like looking at night and day. Performing in the theater where they work is opera singer Dante Dominio (John Turturro), with a beautiful voice and a considerable ego. Lola takes up with Dante, much to Suzie's dismay, about the same time Suzie becomes interested in the gypsies that perform along with the theater.
Enter Cesar (Johnny Depp), who plays roles in the theater's performances with his gorgeous white horse. Suzie is drawn to him, the feeling very clear that it is not just Cesar's smoldering good looks but a sense of affinity with him that calls to her, both of them being outcasts in some way. What follows are a couple of 'Hello Vicar' sensually passionate scenes between Ricci and Depp (Yowza!) as they find love with each other.
But pre-war France was a dangerous place for Jews, and when the jealous Dante exposes Suzie, which infuriates the gold-digging Lola enough to leave him, Suzie must say goodbye to Cesar and travel on to America to try and find her father.
'The Man Who Cried' is a very pretty movie, not deep in plot but visually moving, truly a piece of cinematic eye-candy. The photography and the brilliant acting by Ricci, Depp, Blanchett, and Turturro carry this movie all the way to five stars. The soundtrack to the movie is wonderful, with some very moving operatic pieces that enhance the overall feel of the film. Taking its place as a sleepy, dramatic movie with no real action, 'The Man Who Cried' still made a powerful impact on me, though I don't usually pick up movies of this genre. Yes, it's that good, definitely a 'buy to own' rather than 'rent' DVD. Enjoy!
Who is "The Man Who Cried" and why did he cry? These are the questions you may ask yourself after watching this movie, which ties together loose ends from "The Pianist", "Cabaret" and a lot of other flicks about World War II emigrees.
Rarely does a film with this good a cast -- including Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, a badly miscat John Turturro and Johnny Depp -- come off with less vigor and more questions in the storyline. For instance, what was the father's role in this whole thing and why was the father the focal point at the end?
Briefly stated, the movie is about a Russian Jew separated from her family before the war (Ricci) who is raised in England to become a singer and dancer, befriends a woman in a similiar situation (Blanchett) who together perform in Paris during the time of German occupation in 1940, falls for a striking Magyar (Depp), is announced to the Germans as a Jew by an opera singer (Turturro), and somehow later finds her father to be reunited with her family.
I don't quibble with those that found this film artistic and beautifully produced. However, those attributes do not make a great movie and this one surely lacks greatness. It is an enjoyable foray for a couple hours on a weekend.
on July 28, 2003
This is a movie that will make you weep. Reviewers who scorned it obviously have no soul, especially the puerile person who said the highlight was the sex scene. There are a couple sex scenes, but no nudity. The purpose of the movie wasn't to titillate, it was to tell a romantic tragedy of people falling in the love at the wrong time in the wrong place.
Christina Ricci, a truly gifted young actress, plays the daughter of Russian Jews, separated from her only surviving relative, her father, by continents and years. We see him at the start of the film in 1927. Beset by the reality of persecution and economic woes in Russia, he decides to make a new life for his family in America. After he leaves, devastation is visited upon his small hometown. The grandmother sends the little girl off with other children to seek refuge in the west. She wants to go to America but is instead adopted by an English couple and raised in England. Stripped of family ties, she is gradually stripped of her language and culture by her adoptive parents and the harsh English school system.
We later see her as a young woman. Still remembering her father, she goes to Paris to earn money as a dancer and singer and so be able to afford the boat trip to America. In Paris she meets up with fellow Russian ex-pat Cate Blanchett, the star dancer in the Moulin Rouge type setting. They get the opportunity to be singers in the chorus of an opera. John Turturro is brilliant as the egotistical Italian tenor and Harry Dean Stanton is also welcome as the humble opera director.
Johnny Depp plays one of the gypsies hired as bit players. It takes a while, but eventually Ricci and Depp meet and share their lives. It's an unfortunate time because the Nazi war machine is steamrolling across Europe and jackboots come marching into Paris. It's not a safe time for any Jew. Ricci's dilemma is whether to stay with her new love and risk their lives, or pursue her dream of finding her father.