Written by Sally Potter
Directed by Sally Potter
There are movies that are good. And then there are movies that want to tell you how good they are. Usually, those movies are not quite as god as they would want you to believe. However, the people who made them believe that if you came to your senses, you would really see how good the movie is. They take a serious subject, add in some quality, esteemed actors, and think that’s what makes the movie.
The Man Who Cried is one of those films. I wanted to like it so bad. It featured some of my favorite actors with Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and Cate Blanchett.
“Suzie” (portrayed by Christina Ricci) is a motherless young girl in Russia, and Jewish. Her father makes the decision to immigrate to America to seek better opportunities. He intends to send for his mother and Suzie later on. The day he leaves is the last day Suzie sees him. During the violence of the Russian Revolution, Suzie’s grandmother sends her off clutching her father’s picture.
Suzie ends up on a freighter bound for England. She’s taken in by a family there but doesn’t quite fit in at home or at school. Others do take note of her exceptional voice and coach her along.
Fast forward and Suzie (now portrayed by Christina Ricci) grows up. Her dream is still to go to America and find her father. Her voice lands her a gig as a showgirl just outside Paris. There she becomes involved with a mysterious man (portrayed by Johnny Depp) who rides around on horseback.
She gets sent off to England where she’s taken in by a kindly family, but she never quite fits. Fast forward about ten years later and Suzie is off to Paris to find a job while trying to earn money to get her to America, where she believes her father still lives. Suzie gets a job in a show and rooms with fellow castmate Lola (portrayed by Cate Blanchett). Lola and Suzie are quite opposites, with Lola’s main goal in life seeming to be to land a rich man at any cost. She seems to have achieved that when she catches the eye of opera singer Dante Domino (portrayed by John Turturro). Suzie, meanwhile, meets and falls for the leader of a band of gypsies Cesare (portrayed by Johnny Depp).
What happens from there was extremely predictable. Lola knows of Suzi’s Jewish ancestry, putting her in a precarious position. It’s the eve of World War II and the Nazis invade Poland while Suzie is in Paris. Although they think themselves safe, soon people from the show are disappearing. Suzie herself makes plans to escape.
There were a few problems with the movie, but one was that it moved along at a snail’s pace. It’s character-driven which is fine when you have a vested interest in the characters and care about what happens to them, but that wasn’t the case in The Man Who Cried. I should have been rooting for Suzie to get away from the Nazis and find her father, but I just really didn’t care. What’s being set up throughout the story has been done before and has been done much better.
I can’t fault the actors. They all seem to do what they can with something that probably looked a lot better when they first signed on. The original cut came in at 300 minutes and was whittled down to just 97. Is there more character development in the missing 200+ minutes? Or is it just more of the same plodding along? Too much of the time I wanted to yell at them to “get on with it” while I was watching I can’t imagine sitting through three times the length if it was just more of the same.
Ricci does a great job with her singing here, and that’s one huge plus for the film. The music all around was something to be noted and appreciated, but that’s about the only real praise I can heap on The Man Who Cried. As far as the script, well, there’s hardly any dialogue at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed like these were just vacant characters moving across a screen without any emotion or depth. I also didn’t see the chemistry between Ricci and Depp which is unusual for either of these fine actors. Perhaps it’s the age difference that makes their love scenes feel quite uncomfortable, but I just couldn’t believe that the two shared this amazing love and connection. DiCaprio and Winslet convinced me better in Titanic, and that’s saying something.
I wouldn’t watch The Man Who Cried again unless I needed to get to sleep and didn’t have any warm milk.
• Theatrical Trailer
• Production Notes
• Cast and Filmmakers
Categories: Movie Reviews