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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 18, 2018 


This is the journey of a little Jewish girl, Fegele (Claudia Lander-Duke) from Russia in 1927 after the separation with her father (Oleg Yankovskiy) who sets off to the US to seek work, as she is tossed around life’s tricky roads, until – renamed Suzie by foster parents in England - she grows old enough to make her way to her dream destination, America. Here, as a young woman (Christina Ricci), she tries to find her father, and ends up in Hollywood. On the way, she goes to Paris, falls in love with a gypsy (Johnny Depp) and befriends ambitious Russian Lola (Cate Blanchett), Suzie wins a part in an opera starring arrogant Italian Dante Dominio (John Turturro), who becomes Lola's lover. And when the Nazis arrive, Suzie is at grave risk, even from her friends.

"So ambitious in its dramatic scope as to validate an epic over two hours, Sally Potter’s emotion-driven film feels truncated and hurried in the final 20 minutes – but by then it’s too late, anyway, to save the film from its own weight. Potter is frustratingly talented in the visual and musical languages of cinema – frustrating because this talent is not matched in dramaturgy. She tends to come off as dramatic rather than a dramatist, wasting much of the enormous talent she assembles – including her own. We are flooded with great, viscerally powerful images – which end up meaning very little. The title is misleading as it leans obtusely away from the central character of Suzie, referring instead to the men in her life…all of whom shed tears. The film is not about the men, nor about Suzie, really, but more about her than about the men. And more about Lola, for that matter, thanks largely to Cate Blanchett’s evocative performance, echoing with a complex humanity that is far more accessible and interesting than Suzie’s tightlipped presence. For Potter, the film is about survival: but that is such a trite and broad subject as to encompass almost every movie ever made. In the end, we are bored with the subject, even as we relish the pictures."
Andrew L. Urban

"There's a splendid film camouflaged in Sally Potter's The Man Who Cried, with its dazzling visuals, haunting themes and wonderful performances. Exquisite production design, gorgeous settings and costumes – all the elements are there, yet misjudged direction and fragmented storytelling never allows the project to soar. Potter's strengths are also her weaknesses; her theatrical background and love of music envelop us in the most ethereal sensual moods that no doubt would be better enhanced by sharp editing and a less indulgent approach. The story of survival, discrimination, friendship and betrayal is one that is told cinematically; music and singing are the instinctive, natural means of self-expression. Potter seems to be cramming so many ideas into the film, that the artistic canvas is overloaded. While the opening scenes set in Russia need to establish Suzie's background, at 20 minutes in length, it is far too long. Similarly, the operatic scenes (Potter is credited as Opera Music Producer) do not sustain and would be far more powerful if a less is more philosophy were followed. It's a pity, because the performances are as fabulous as the visuals. Christina Ricci is a poignant heroine; her Suzie is soulfulness in a visceral and effecting way. Ricci and Johnny Depp are well matched (as they were in Sleepy Hollow); they are like souls in a world that only they inhabit. Cate Blanchett is stunning in a showy, glamorous role unlike any other we've seen before; beyond the fish nets and red painted lips inhabits a sad, lonely character. And the considerable talents of John Turturro are put to good use as the egotistical opera singer. Johnny Depp's first on screen appearance is nothing short of breathtaking on a superb white stallion, with decorative Blanchett and Ricci draped in gold with plumed headdresses. Paris has never looked lovelier, while the melancholy of the gypsy music weeps throughout. Despite its flaws, The Man Who Cried is a moving cinematic experience, but not the masterpiece it could have been."
Louise Keller

"The Man Who Cried is a major disappointment when you consider the talent involved. The new film by Sally Potter (Orlando, Tango) continually threatens to soar but never actually makes it. What starts out as the touching story of a child's cultural, religious and social displacement becomes a rather silly sub-Cabaret tale of love among the about-to-be-ruined in Paris. Potter fills the screen with memorable postcard imagery but the more the story progresses the less likely we are to believe what's happening in the frame. Part of the problem is casting. Christina Ricci looks ill at ease playing an English lass who skips over to Paris as the first stop on a mission to America to find her long lost father. She simply doesn't convince and her faltering accent doesn't help matters either. The same applies to John Turturro whose lip synch is far better than his wobbly portrayal of a temperamental opera singer. Some of his wigs and costumes are also likely to elicit giggles from the gallery. Harry Dean Stanton is excused because he's a legend with no need to prove anything to anyone but why he was cast in such a bland role remains a mystery. Cate Blanchett (excellent, as usual) and Johnny Depp (still the most beautiful man alive) fare much better although Depp and Ricci looked much more comfortable hanging out in Sleepy Hollow than they do here. For such a rich mix of cultures and the heady times at which they intersect, this is a strangely empty experience. Sacha Vierny's photography looks good on a modest budget but there's not enough to grab the emotions and make us care for these characters. By the time Ricci makes it to America you may not even notice how ridiculous this finale is. Although far from disastrous and entertaining enough if you don't want to look too deeply, you can't help feeling that the promising story and high-calibre personnel should have produced a much more substantial offering than what unspools."
Richard Kuipers

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CAST: Christina Ricci, Oleg Yankovskiy, Claudia Lander-Duke, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, John Turturro

DIRECTOR: Sally Potter

PRODUCER: Christopher Sheppard

SCRIPT: Sally Potter


EDITOR: Herve Schneid

MUSIC: Osvaldo Golijov


RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2001 (Sydney/Melbourne; other states July)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: December 19, 2001

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