Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Mini-Review: The Man Who Cried

This is the Netflix summary, I've highlighted the key words which made me rent this flick:

The "it girl" of the indie scene, Christina Ricci is Suzie, a Russian Jew adrift in the world after her father leaves the family to make a fresh start in America. Immigrating to England, Suzie flowers into a no-nonsense showgirl who eventually ends up in Paris (on the eve of World War II), where she soon becomes involved with Cesar (Johnny Depp), the head of a small band of gypsies.

</i>This is the imdb summary, which is much more accurate:

A Russian peasant emigrates to America, with a promise to send for his mother and young daughter when he is settled. His daughter follows shortly after, but she ends up on a ship bound for England, where she is renamed Suzie and raised by a British family. Many years later, Suzie's talent for singing and dancing sees her accepted into a Paris dance troupe where she befriends Lola, a fellow dancer from Moscow; Dante, an egotistical tenor and Cesar, a handsome brooding gypsy. All is well until the Nazis march into Paris, and Suzie's Russian Jewish background places her in danger. She must decide whether to leave Cezar and her friends and continue the search for her father in America.

Both summaries are woefully inadequate. We go through about a quarter of the film before Chrisitina Ricci makes her appearance. The story starts in a Russian-Jewish stetl and centers on Fegele, a little girl who is seen playing with her father. The two are inseparable. No mother in sight. A villager returns from America, and convinces most of the men to come back with him, Fegele's father among them. Soon after the men leave, the Russian troops come and burn the village, and Fegele's grandma manages to pack her off on a cart with a couple of the young village boys, with three gold coins and a picture of her father.

She is separated from her friends, and instead of America, ends up in England, where she is renamed Suzie, adopted by a Christian couple (who take away her one remaining gold piece and her father's picture so she won't dwell on the past), sent to a Catholic school, where she has Yiddish songs beaten out of her and replaced with English ones. Her singing talent is recognized, and this is where Ms. Ricci enters.

The school arranges an audition for her before a woman who runs a Paris Folies-style show, and despite not having pretty legs she is hired. Her foster parents are not particularly sad to see her go, they give her back the gold piece, and her father's picture.

In Paris, tall blonde Russian Lola befriends her, they move into a small apartment together, and Lola manages to sweet talk a guest Italian opera singer into putting them both in the chorus of the opera. Cezar is a gypsy who somehow has come into possession of a white Lippizaner stallion, which is featured onstage in the performances. Lola schtups the opera star, Suzie schtups the gypsy.

The Nazis roll into Paris, the opera singer betrays Suzie to the Nazi commander and dumps Lola. Lola gets them tickets on the Lusitania, bound for America. Lola is killed but Suzi survives and starts searching for her father.

Cate Blanchett, who plays Lola, delivers a "best supporting actress stuck in a poorly-written, blatantly stereotypical role" performance. Depp is not given much to say, but they make much use of his smoldering eyes. Ricci is not convincing as a singer, I couldn't understand a word of the Yiddish lyrics she sings at the end (or much of the English - she doesn't articulate well when she sings) and worst of all, we never see her naked. Her first sex scene with Depp is done with both of them fully clothed.

The opera singer is marvelously over-acted by John Turturro, and if that's his real voice, I'd love to hear him in a real opera.

The movie feels like it is a bit too long, there are some serious issues with continuity in both the editing and the script, and if I had a dollar for every cliche...



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