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Fergus (Stephen Rea) is a grunt in the IRA. He and his cell capture a British soldier stationed in Ireland, Jody (Forrest Whittaker). They hold him hostage, hoping Britain will release one of their own in exchange for Jody's safety. If the British government refuses to comply, the IRA will execute Jody. Fergus is only supposed to guard the prisoner. He's not supposed to take his hood off. He's definitely not supposed to humanize Jody. Unfortunately, Fergus is at heart, a decent guy. He can't resist treating Jody humanely.
Over the next four days, Fergus and Jody get to know each other. Jody tells his captor about his girl back home, Dil. He even shows Fergus a picture in his wallet. He bemoans the fact that he might never see her again, and asks Fergus to look after her, should the worst befall him.
Of course, the order eventually comes down that Jody has to die. Fergus is slated for the task, but can't bring himself to do it, buying Jody a chance for escape...which gets him about as far as the nearest road where he's quickly run over by a tank. The British army has found the IRA hiding spot, it seems. Distraught, Fergus runs for it, fleeing both the British soldiers and his former men-at-arms.
Having no other course of action, Fergus makes his way to London to honor Jody's last request. He reinvents himself as Jimmy and finds Dil working as a hairdresser and sometime lounge singer. Though he means to tell her the truth about himself, he finds himself falling for her first. But, he's not the only one with a secret.
- Abhorrent Admirer: David for Dil.
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Trope Namer.
- This film is mostly remembered for the fact that one of the characters is transsexual. The reason it codified this trope is because said transsexual is graphically shown to be PRE-OP.
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have spoiled this for future audiences by nominating Davidson as best supporting actor before it opened in Australia.
- It's too bad that's not really the important part. There's a whole massive mess of political intrigue going on as the movie continues.
- The movie is also psychologically interesting in how Stephen Rhea's character, who is basically a decent person, tries to deal with bad situations and people. But all this was arguably ruined by the way the director handled the reveal of Dil's transsexuality.
- Movie posters and DVD boxes featured Miranda Richardson to try to confuse the issue.
- "Hot Shots! Part Deux" includes a spoiler for The Crying Game in the closing credits.
- The exact trope name comes from the song "The Crying Game"; it's part of the song's first line. Originally written in 1964, a cover by Boy George was used in the closing credits of the film, and the song was sung by Dil in the film.
- Ate His Gun: Dil wants to, but Fergus won't let her.
- Award Bait Song: Averted. "The Crying Game" wasn't original, so it wasn't eligible for an Academy Award.
- Bad Dreams: Fergus has them about Jody.
- Badass Boast:
Jimmy: Have you ever picked up your teeth with broken fingers?
- Bittersweet Ending: Fergus is out of the IRA, but in jail. He and Dil seem to be together, though.
- Bound and Gagged: Jody.
- And again, with the film's usual irony, Fergus.
- Captain Obvious: Fergus is pretty slow on the uptake regarding Dil and who knew about this and that and so on.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: The IRA wants Fergus to perform one of these.
- Dropped a Bridget On Him: AND HOW!!!
- Femme Fatale: Jude, especially when she goes raven-haired.
Jude: Fuck me, Fergus?... am I to take that as a "no"?
- Frog and The Scorpion
- Gender Blender Name: Jody, Jude, and Dil.
- Genre Shift: From a fairly manly action movie to a sympathetic look at gender issues. It still retains some violence and political intrigue though.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Peter.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
Dil: You're doing time for me. No greater love, as the man says. Wish you'd tell me why.
Fergus: As the man said, it's in my nature.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Fans of Whose Line Is It Anyway? will recognize Tony Slattery right away.
- Jim Broadbent is the Metro bartender.
- Honey Trap: The IRA gets Jody by sending one of these (played by Miranda Richardson) after him
- If It's You It's Okay: Implied to be the resolution for Dil and Fergus.
- Important Haircut: One for Fergus (though done off-screen) when he reinvents himself as Jimmy. Another for Dil when she has to go into hiding.
- Insistent Terminology: Dil continues to call Fergus loving terms after The Reveal, to his consternation.
- Lima Syndrome
- Male Frontal Nudity: Used for The Reveal.
- Manslaughter Provocation: Probably what Fergus gets convicted of.
- Nausea Fuel: The Reveal, for Fergus.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Jude to Fergus.
Fergus: No way. I'm out.
Jude: (practically rolling her eyes) You're never out.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Dil on Jude.
- Shower of Angst: This famous post-revelation scene has been harkened back to many times, most-famously spoofed in Ace Ventura.
- Stalker with a Crush: Eddie.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: The film opens "When a Man Loves a Woman", and ends with "Stand By Your Man".
- Sympathetic Murderer: Dil.
- Title Drop: The eponymous song is song by Dil.
- Transsexual: In the famous twist, Dil.
- Traumatic Haircut: Dil. The last thing she wants to be is a boy again. The only way Dil agrees is that Fergus insists that he's doing it for love; she still cries as her hair is cut.
Fergus: Do anything for me?
Dil: Anything... (Fergus starts to cut her hair) NO WAY!
Fergus: You said anything.
Dil: Girl has to draw the line somewhere.
- Unrequited Love: The theme of the film.
- We Do Not Know Each Other: When the IRA comes after Fergus again, he tries to get Dil to play along with this. He puts her up in a hotel and cuts her hair, but his plan doesn't quite work out.
- What You Are in the Dark: Fergus gets one of these when it's time to kill Jody. He can't bring himself to do it.
- Ironic Echo when Dil wants to kill Fergus, but can't bring herself to do it, either.