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Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4
Writer and director Sally Potter (THE TANGO LESSON), who has a propensity
for crafting sumptuous music and visuals while having difficulty coming up
with a compelling narrative, has her usual troubles in THE MAN WHO CRIED.
Although it never achieves lift-off, its clichéd story boldly comes out
foursquare against anti-Semitism. Among its musical treats are melodic
opera arias, lip-synced by John Turturro in a silly beard, and a moody
rendition of "Gloomy Sunday," lip-synced by Christina Ricci. The
superlative actors also include Cate Blanchett as a blonde bimbo, who
worries that she hasn't used enough bleach on her hair, and Johnny Depp, who
repeats his role from CHOCOLAT as a gypsy hunk living in France.
As the story begins in an unknown time and place, Yiddish-speaking
characters are fleeing a village. One young girl, played by Claudia
Lander-Duke, is sent off to America but arrives instead in Britain, where
the immigration officials randomly assign her the name of Susan. Susan, who
takes the nickname of Suzie, is caned at school by her principal for
speaking Yiddish. The principal remarks that they didn't let him speak
Welsh when he was young.
Jumping forward in time to pre-World War II Britain, a grown-up Suzie
(played by a miscast Ricci) embarks on a new career as a member of a
scantily-clad group of singers and dancers bound for Paris. With a
laughably overdrawn Russian accent, Cate Blanchett plays Lola, Suzie's
roommate in her new troupe. When they arrive in Paris, Lola takes up with
Dante (Turturro), an Italian opera singer with a large ego. After working
hard, albeit with mixed success, on making the accents authentic, Potter
gives up on only one nationality, the Germans. The only characters with
American accents are the Nazis. Go figure.
Since we've seen all of this before, the only things we're likely to
remember are the visuals. Two stand out. Depp makes one heck of a handsome
gypsy, and Turturro looks ridiculous as an opera singer.
THE MAN WHO CRIED runs a long 1:37. It is rated R for sexuality and would
be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes