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Universal Studios Home Video presents
"It's dangerous to love. Isn't that so Suzie?"
DVD ReviewWatching The Man Who Cried is a lot like sitting behind the wheel of a fully loaded luxury car that has no engine. On the surface it is exquisite in its beauty, though one is saddened to realize that there is really nothing there to drive the picture along. With The Man Who Cried director Sally Potter (Orlando, The Tango Lesson) continues to craft films that are high on style but unfortunately low on substance. The Man Who Cried deals with the life of Fegele (shown at age 10 as the movie opens) a young Jewish child being raised in 1920s' Russia who will make her way to Paris in a time of war. As was the case with much of Russia then, making a living was difficult, leaving Fegele's father to head to America in search of the riches his family deserved. Not long after her father departs, Fegele's grandmother sends her away from the progroms, arriving in a British orphanage where she is given the name Suzie and adopted by a well-meaning British couple. The next time we see Suzie (now played by Ricci) she is in Paris and living the life of a dancer. In a time of war her secret that she is Jewish is closely guarded and shared only by her roommate Lola (Blanchett) and Lola's boyfriend Dante (Turturro). While Suzie saves her pay in order to make it to America and reunite with her father, she meets a gypsy named Cesar (Depp) and soon her plans of sailing to America are replaced by the web of love. As Suzie is happily falling in love, she is also in danger due to the advancing Nazi forces. Put simply, The Man Who Cried is really sort of a bore. We never connect with the characters to care for them, and several are so largely over the top that it becomes hard to even like any of them. Potter, working from her own script, seems to linger too long in several scenes making the hour-and-a-half length seem twice that. Potter's script also fails to create any sort of believable love story, feeling more like a daytime soap opera. The central love story between Cesar and Suzie seems to consist largely of the two looking longingly into each other's eyes while not saying a word. Fans of the Romance Channel should eat this stuff up, though. This is too bad, because, as mentioned above, The Man Who Cried is absolutely wonderful from a technical standpoint. The cinematography by the legendary Sacha Vierny is absolutely amazing in its beauty. Vierny paints 1930s' Paris with muted blues and drab tans that makes each shot feel like a painting from that time period. Vierny, who worked with Luis Bunuel and Peter Greenaway, passed away ten days before the release of The Man Who Cried in May of 2001, allowing his last great work to be perhaps his lasting mark on cinematic history. With a cast that includes Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, and John Turturro , The Man Who Cried is one of only a few films to include nearly an across the board roster of my favorite actors and actresses. Sadly though none of the group gives a stand out performance. Ricci (who is more beautiful with each passing film) is fine, though her performance feels flat and fails to imbue the viewer with the sort of compassion needed to make it successful. Normally unrecognizable from film to film, Depp's character seems to have wandered in from Chocolat. Most frustrating, Blanchett and Turturro are horribly miscast in their roles, both completely over the top in their performances, particularly Turturro as an opera singer.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: With its amazing cinematography the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer for The Man Who Cried looks simply terrific. The muted colors by cinematographer Vierny come off beautifully with the harsh blues and vibrant colors of the Paris set scenes looking nothing short of perfect. Sharpness and detail are also each nearly flawless though some shots contain a soft look, which may have been intentional. Print flaws and edge enhancement are kept to a minimum.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Universal has graciously provided The Man Who Cried with both a Dolby Digital and DTS sound mix. At first glance the inclusion of both may seem a bit silly given the dialogue heavy mix, but it is in subtlety that the soundtracks for The Man Who Cried score. Ambient sounds are nicely placed in the rear speakers, though they are never showy. Towards the end of the film when the Nazis invade the surrounds briefly give way to more dynamic action. Dialogue is clean and crisp while the score is beautifully mixed across each of the speakers. A face off between the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks provided no overwhelming favorite, though the DTS track does have a bit better definition and is mixed a bit louder. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also available.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Beautiful Creatures, Rat, Pavillion Of Women, Buffalo '66
Extras Review: Theatrical trailers for Beautiful Creatures, Rat, Pavillion Of Women, and Buffalo '66 are available for viewing in the recommendations section while the trailer for The Man Who Cried is presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround. Production notes and DVD-ROM content round out the extra features.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsAs a technical achievement The Man Who Cried is off the charts with its sumptuous cinematography and music. Lackluster performances and a week script, however, make me unable to recommend the film.
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