The Crying Game
UK quad poster
Directed byNeil Jordan
Written byNeil Jordan
Produced by
CinematographyIan Wilson
Edited byKant Pan
Music byAnne Dudley
Distributed byPalace Pictures
Release dates
  • 2 September 1992 (1992-09-02) (Venice)
  • 30 October 1992 (1992-10-30) (U.K.)
  • 19 June 1993 (1993-06-19) (Japan)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan[2]
Budget£2.3 million
Box office$71 million[3]

The Crying Game is a 1992 thriller film written and directed by Neil Jordan, produced by Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell, and starring Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, Adrian Dunbar, Ralph Brown, and Forest Whitaker. The film explores themes of race, sex, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The film follows Fergus (Rea), a member of the IRA, who has a brief but meaningful encounter with a British soldier, Jody (Whitaker), who is being held prisoner by the group. Fergus later develops an unexpected romantic relationship with Jody's lover, Dil (Davidson), whom Fergus promised Jody he would take care of. Fergus is forced to decide between what he wants and what his nature dictates he must do.

A critical and commercial success, The Crying Game won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, alongside Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Rea, Best Supporting Actor for Davidson, and Best Film Editing. In 1999, the British Film Institute named it the 26th-greatest British film of all time.


At a rural Northern Irish fairground, a Provisional IRA volunteer named Fergus (Stephen Rea) and a unit of other IRA members, led by Peter Maguire (Adrian Dunbar), kidnap a black British soldier named Jody (Forest Whitaker) after a female member of their unit, Jude (Miranda Richardson), lures Jody to a secluded area by promising sex. The unit intends to hold Jody until an imprisoned IRA member is released, and if their demands are not met within three days, he will be executed.

As Fergus stands guard over Jody, the two begin to bond, and Jody shares the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog with him. Aware that he may not survive, Jody asks Fergus to promise to find his girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson). When the captors' deadline passes without their demands being met, Fergus is ordered to take Jody into the woods to kill him. However, instead of shooting him, Fergus chases Jody when he attempts to escape. As Jody flees, he runs into the road and is struck and killed by a British armoured personnel carrier.

The British army attacks the IRA unit, and Fergus manages to escape, believing his companions have perished in the attack. He flees to London, assuming the alias "Jimmy" and finding work as a day labourer. A few months later, Fergus encounters Dil at a hair salon, where she works as a stylist. He follows her to a gay bar, and they flirt using the barman, Col (Jim Broadbent), as an intermediary. They develop a relationship, and Fergus falls in love with her.

However, when they are about to become intimate, Dil undresses, revealing that Dil is transgender. Fergus, initially repulsed, reacts severely, hitting Dil in the face and leaving her apartment. After some reflection, he apologizes to Dil in a note, and they reconcile.

Around the same time, Jude reappears and coerces Fergus into helping with an assassination plot against a British judge, using the threat of harm to Dil to ensure his cooperation. Fergus continues to woo Dil, disguising her as a boy in Jody's old cricket uniform to protect her. The night before the IRA mission, Dil gets drunk and Fergus stays with her. He confesses his role in Jody's death, but Dil appears not to fully comprehend in her intoxicated state.

In the morning, Dil restrains Fergus with stockings, preventing him from completing the assassination. An angry Maguire manages to shoot the judge, but he is shot and killed by the judge's bodyguards. Jude, seeking revenge, enters Dil's flat with a gun, but Dil manages to overpower her and shoots her dead after learning of her involvement in Jody's death. Dil then points the gun at Fergus but ultimately spares him, stating that Jody would not want her to kill him.

Fergus prevents Dil from killing herself and allows her to escape. He wipes her fingerprints from the gun and takes the blame for Jude's murder. Months later, Dil visits Fergus in prison and asks why he took the fall for her. He responds, "As a man once said, it's in my nature," and begins to recount the story of the Scorpion and the Frog.



Neil Jordan first drafted the screenplay in the mid-1980s under the title The Soldier's Wife, but shelved the project after a similar film was released. A 1931 short story by Frank O'Connor called Guests of the Nation, in which IRA soldiers develop a bond with their English captives, whom they are ultimately forced to kill,[4] partly inspired the story.

Jordan sought to begin production of the film in the early 1990s, but found it difficult to secure financing,[4] as the script's controversial themes and his recent string of box office flops discouraged potential investors. Several funding offers from the United States fell through because the funders wanted Jordan to cast a woman to play the role of Dil, believing that it would be impossible to find an androgynous male actor who could pass as female.[5] Derek Jarman eventually referred Jordan to Jaye Davidson,[5] who was completely new to acting, and was spotted by a casting agent while attending a premiere party for Jarman's film Edward II.[4] Rea later said, "'If Jaye hadn't been a completely convincing woman, my character would have looked stupid'".[6] The film included full-frontal "male" nudity on Davidson's part; he was filmed nude in the notable bedroom scene in which Dil's sexual anatomy was revealed.[7]

The film went into production with an inadequate patchwork of funding, leading to a stressful and unstable filming process. The producers constantly searched for small amounts of money to keep the production going, and the unreliable pay left crew members disgruntled. Costume designer Sandy Powell had an extremely small budget to work with and ended up having to lend Davidson some of her own clothes to wear in the film, as the two happened to be the same size.[4]

The film was known as The Soldier's Wife for much of its production, but Stanley Kubrick, a friend of Jordan, counselled against the title, which he said would lead audiences to expect a war film. The opening sequence was shot in Laytown, County Meath, Ireland, and the rest in London and Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, England.[8] The bulk of the film's London scenes were shot in the East End, specifically Hoxton and Spitalfields.[9] Dil's flat is in a building facing onto Hoxton Square, with the exterior of the Metro on nearby Coronet Street. Fergus's flat and Dil's hair salon are both in Spitalfields. Chesham Street in Belgravia was the location for the assassination of the judge, with the now-defunct Lowndes Arms pub just around the corner.[9]


The film was shown at festivals in Italy, the United States and Canada in September, and originally released in Ireland and the UK in October 1992, where it failed at the box office. Director Neil Jordan, in later interviews, attributed this failure to the film's heavily political undertone, particularly its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA fighter. The bombing of a pub in London is specifically mentioned as turning the English press against the film.[10]

The then-fledgling film studio Miramax Films decided to promote the film in the U.S. where it became a sleeper hit. A memorable advertising campaign generated intense public curiosity by asking audiences not to reveal the film's "secret" regarding Dil's gender identity.[6] Those surveyed by CinemaScore on opening night gave the film a grade "B" on a scale of A+ to F.[11] Jordan also believed the film's success was a result of the film's British–Irish politics being either lesser-known or completely unknown to American audiences, who flocked to the film for what Jordan called "the sexual politics".

The film earned critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Rea), Best Supporting Actor (Davidson) and Best Director. Writer-director Jordan finally won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film went on to success around the world, including re-releases in Britain and Ireland.

Critical reception

The Crying Game received worldwide acclaim from critics. The film has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 73 reviews, with an average rating of 8.30/10. The consensus states, "The Crying Game is famous for its shocking twist, but this thoughtful, haunting mystery grips the viewer from start to finish."[12] On the review aggregator website Metacritic the film has a score of 90 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[13]

Roger Ebert awarded the film a rating of four out of four stars, describing it in his review as one that "involves us deeply in the story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether" and named it "one of the best films of 1992".[14]

Richard Corliss, in Time magazine, stated: "And the secret? Only the meanest critic would give that away, at least initially." He alluded to the film's secret by means of an acrostic, forming the sentence "she is a he" from the first letter of each paragraph.[15]

Much has been written about The Crying Game's discussion of race, nationality, and sexuality. Theorist and author Jack Halberstam argued that the viewer's placement in Fergus's point of view regarding Dil being a transsexual reinforces societal norms rather than challenging them.[16]

David Cronenberg stated that he was disappointed by M. Butterfly's reception and felt that it was overshadowed by The Crying Game.[17] He said that the films paralleled each other as both were transsexual, transracial, and transcultural. He was critical of The Crying Game stating that the film "copped out" and that "the Stephen Rea character should have killed the black soldier" as it "would have made the movie so much more powerful because his guilt would have been so much greater".[18]

The Crying Game was placed on over 50 critics' ten-best lists in 1992, based on a poll of 106 film critics.[19]

Box office

The film grossed £2 million ($3 million) in the United Kingdom.[20] In the United States and Canada it was more successful, grossing $62.5 million.[20] Based on its US gross, it was the most successful film of the year on a cost to US gross basis.[3] It grossed a total of $71 million worldwide.[3]

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by The Crying Game


The soundtrack to the film, The Crying Game: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, released on 23 February 1993, was produced by Anne Dudley and Pet Shop Boys. Boy George scored his first hit since 1987 with his recording of the title song – a song that had been a hit in the 1960s for British singer Dave Berry. The closing rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" was performed by American singer Lyle Lovett.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Los Angeles Times[21]
The Philadelphia Inquirer[22]
  1. "The Crying Game" – Boy George
  2. "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge
  3. "Live for Today" (Orchestral) – Cicero and Sylvia Mason-James
  4. "Let the Music Play" – Carroll Thompson (credited as Carol Thompson)
  5. "White Cliffs of Dover" – The Blue Jays
  6. "Live for Today" (Gospel) – David Cicero
  7. "The Crying Game" – Dave Berry
  8. "Stand by Your Man" – Lyle Lovett
  9. "The Soldier's Wife"*
  10. "It's in my Nature"*
  11. "March to the Execution"*
  12. "I'm Thinking of You"*
  13. "Dies Irae"*
  14. "The Transformation"*
  15. "The Assassination"*
  16. "The Soldier's Tale"*

*Orchestral tracks composed by Anne Dudley and performed by the Pro Arte Orchestra of London.

See also


  1. ^ "The Crying Game (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 28 August 1992. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  2. ^ "The Crying Game". BFI. Archived from the original on 2 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Very happy returns". Screen International. 14 January 1994. p. 4.
  4. ^ a b c d British Film Institute (21 February 2017). In conversation with The Crying Game cast. YouTube. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Jack Watkins (21 February 2017). "How we made The Crying Game". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Giles, Jeff (1 April 1993). "Jaye Davidson: Oscar's Big Surprise". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  7. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (5 December 2014). "Stephen Rea on The Crying Game's Surprise Penis". Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  8. ^ Presenter: Francine Stock (17 September 2010). "The Film Programme". The Film Programme. London. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  9. ^ a b Oliver Lunn (26 January 2018). "How London has changed since the Crying Game". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 26 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The Crying Game". IMDb. 19 February 1993. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  11. ^ "CRYING GAME, THE (1993) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
  12. ^ The Crying Game at Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ "The Crying Game". Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (18 December 1992). "The Crying Game". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  15. ^ Corliss, Richard. "Queuing For The Crying Game" Archived 15 June 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Time, 25 January 1993.
  16. ^ Halberstam, Judith (2005), In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, New York: New York University Press, p. 81. ISBN 978-0-8147-3585-5.
  17. ^ Cronenberg 2006, p. 132.
  18. ^ Rodley 1997, p. 181-182.
  19. ^ "106 Doesn't Add Up". Los Angeles Times. 24 January 1993. Archived from the original on 1 August 2020. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  20. ^ a b Rufus Olins (24 September 1995). "Mr Fixit of the British Screen". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  21. ^ Hunt, Dennis (11 April 1993). "In Brief". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  22. ^ Wood, Sam (2 March 1993). "Intriguing Music from Two Movies". The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Works cited