The second film on tonight’s bill is not a crime film, which is what I usually cover here. However, there were certainly vitally important truths to uncover and society’s overall attitude toward transgender people was and is a crime. The first film is more of a conventional crime film or at least a thriller. But it too has to do with broader themes — discovering secrets we hide from ourselves, confronting uncomfortable truths and making bold decisions to get to them. Both films are timely in the sense that today’s headlines reflect an increasing awareness of identity, gender issues, politics and civil rights.
The Crying Game – Directed by Neil Jordan this 1992 film was an inspiration to me. While I feel that The Crying Game is actually two films – in tone at least — they are two really good films. One is essentially about the Irish Republican Army, a hostage and his guard, where we are engaged in race, politics and honor with life and death riding shotgun. The second is a story confronting, the idea a man of falling in love with someone that every inch of his being tells him cannot be possible. When can a promise be dismissed and not lose your honor? Can love be ignored when not only society but also everything you believed in forbids it? The film stars Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson and Forest Whitaker.
The Danish Girl — It’s important to note that this isn’t a true story, but fiction based on one. That is, to say, true in spirit. It is also important to note that last year’s The Danish Girl is banned In several backward countries — Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Malaysia.
In addition to the exceptional performances by Eddie Redmayne, there is a standout performance by Alicia Vikander and another by Matthias Schoenaerts. Even so, much credit has to go to the director Tom Hooper and especially cinematographer Danny Cohen who makes Denmark breathtakingly beautiful. The story is tender and tragic as a young, married man begins getting subtle clues that there is a deep feminine side to his nature. His exploration of this, initially aided and abetted by his wife, goes well beyond what he is able to cope with in 1920s Copenhagen (we won’t mention mention the 2016 American South.) The barriers to acceptance — actually underplayed here — of the emerging but also inherent Lily are mercilessly fortified by horrendous medical treatment. This underscores what it means to be transgender in a bi-polar society.
To accompany a thought provoking evening, perhaps a glass of Pernod in honor of the French followed by a glass or two of hearty ale to honor the Irish is in order. For the rest of us and those who must drive, how about some rich, iced coffee to keep our minds stimulated, allowing them to keep pace with our hearts?