Little joy in `Man Who Cried'

September 14, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The Man Who Cried is proof that good intentions alone do not a good movie make.

Writer-director Sally Potter (Orlando, The Tango Lesson) has crafted a movie with things to say about persecution, about a woman's search for identity, about the human capacity to endure. But she's wrapped it in a story that unfolds as though it were written by Sidney Sheldon, filled with stock characters, ridiculous situations and eye-rolling plot twists.

Fegele is a little Jewish girl living happily with her father in a Russian village in 1927. But times are tough, and the father, determined to find a better place to raise his family, leaves for America. A short time later, the village is raided and Fegele gets caught up in the flood of refugees.

She ends up in England, and her only possession is a photograph of her beloved father. Placed in a Christian foster home, she's re-named Suzie, forced to learn proper English, and forbidden from speaking Yiddish.

Time passes, and Suzie continues to find herself in the center of the world's unpleasantness. After becoming part of a roving band of entertainers (turns out she can sing), she and a friend travel to Paris to get jobs. What they also get is continuing persecution, this time at the hands of the Nazis.

All the while, Suzie continues to search for her father, struggling to save enough money to make the trip to America. Eventually she does, where it turns out her dad has settled in ... Hollywood.

There's little joy to be found throughout this movie, a fact that must have been drummed incessantly into Christina Ricci. In a one-note performance as the long-suffering Suzie, she rarely takes her eyes off the ground. Other ill-used cast members include Cate Blanchett as her gold-digging friend and Johnny Depp (apparently still thinking he's in Chocolat) as Suzie's Gypsy heartthrob.

For all its weighty subject matter and supposed profundities, The Man Who Cried should have had more to say than that bad things happen to good people.

The Man Who Cried

Starring Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett

Written, directed by Sally Potter

Released by Universal Focus films

Rated R (sexuality)

Running time 97 minutes

Sun score * 1/2

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