The Man Who Cried review

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It's amusing that this film should open in the same month as the scathing Cecil B Demented, in which a Hollywood star is kidnapped by guerilla film-makers. Directed by Sally Potter, whose previous output includes such self-indulgences as Orlando and The Tango Lesson, this brazen arthouser boasts an embarrassment of Hollywood talent - but who will ultimately feel the full weight of this embarrassment (us or them) is open to question. Potter's latest is an aloof and uninvolving bore. Focusing on a stilted Christina Ricci, who looks like she's being directed, Cecil B Demented-style, with a cattle-prod (STAND UP! SIT DOWN! SMILE!), The Man Who Cried is full of 2D characters whose seemingly deliberately bad accents point up the heartless academia of this fruitless affair.

There's Cate Blanchett's Lola, the Russian dancer, who offers such clumsy proclamations as the cringe-worthy: "It ees dangerous to lurve." There's Depp's camp romany Cesar, the preening gypsy whose nostrils flare wider than the awkwardly symbolic white horse he rides. Every character is just a cipher, there to provide Potter's clumsy script with the right metaphors but unable to hook us into the unbearably schmaltzy story. Lola's destiny, for example, is a clever and ironic comment on her desire to become a movie starlet, but... it would be nice to give a damn.

More troubling however is the film's portrayal of World War Two as a simplistic game of cowboys and indians, glossing over all the shades of grey in Nazi-occupied Paris. Forget the death camps - the real affront in this patronising and irritatingly sentimental nursery rhyme of a movie is that the Nazis put sweet little old ladies in jail, just for being Jewish.

You'll have seen worse films this year - but few that think so much of themselves as this one.

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