Cast: Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker
Oscar Wins: Best Original Screenplay (Neil Jordan)
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Stephen Rea), Best Supporting Actor (Jaye Davidson), Best Director (Neil Jordan), Best Film Editing (Kant Pan)
SUMMARY: In Northern Ireland, British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker) is at a fair with a young woman named Jude (Miranda Richardson) when he is kidnapped by a group of Irish Republican Army (IRA) members. The IRA members, including Jude, Fergus (Stephen Rea) and Maguire intend to hold Jody hostage, only releasing him if imprisoned IRA members are released by the British. Fergus is given the job of guarding Jody, but to the disappointment of the others, the two begin to develop a friendship. Jody tells Fergus that this is because Fergus is kind by nature. Over the three days he is held hostage, Jody tells Fergus about his girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) back in London. When he realizes that he will be killed, Jody makes Fergus promise to track down Dil, and tell her that Jody was thinking of her. When the IRA’s deadline passes and their demands have not been met, Fergus is ordered to kill Jody. However, Jody starts running, and Fergus cannot bring himself to shoot Jody in the back. However, Jody runs into a road, and is hit by a British military vehicle approaching to attack the IRA members. Several members are killed, and presuming the others are dead, Fergus goes to London; he adopts the name “Jimmy” and gets a job working construction. After getting established, he looks up Dil. Almost immediately he is attracted to her, and the two begin a tentative relationship (even though Fergus has recurring dreams of Jody). As their relationship deepens, Fergus makes a startling discovery: Dil is transgender. Though he stays away for a few days, Fergus ultimately resumes a friendship with Dil (though he is unsure about a further romantic relationship).
Fergus comes home one day to find Jude sitting in his apartment. She informs him that after the attack by the British soldiers, she and Maguire escaped. Fergus was court-martialed in absentia and convicted, but Jude wants him to help with a new mission. Fergus wants nothing more to do with the IRA, but Jude knows about Dil, and threatens to kill her if Fergus does not help with the mission. Fergus is desperate to protect Dil, and disguises her as a man — but does not tell her what is going on. The night before the mission (the assassination of a judge), Fergus discovers that Dil has fled ; he discovers her wandering drunkenly around her apartment building. At Dil’s request, Fergus stays with her that night. He finally tells her of his involvement in Jody’s death, but Dil doesn’t seem to comprehend. However, in the morning before Fergus wakes up, Dil ties him to the bed and takes his gun. When Fergus wakes up he is desperate to leave and join Jude and Maguire, but Dil refuses to let him go. Dil forces him to say that he loves her and will never leave her; when it becomes clear that he has missed the mission, Fergus calms down and does as Dil requests. She finally unties him, saying that it is nice to hear such things even if she knows they’re not true. Elsewhere, Jude and Maguire decide that they cannot wait for Fergus any longer, and Maguire kills the judge himself. He is then shot and killed by the judge’s bodyguards. Jude escapes and returns to Dil’s apartment, where she intends to kill Fergus. Dil still has the gun, and instead shoots Jude for her role in killing Jody. She also tries to shoot Fergus, but cannot bring herself to do so. Fergus then takes the gun and sends Dil away; he wipes her fingerprints off the gun and adds his own, then waits for the police to arrive. Some time later, Fergus has been sentenced to six years in prison. Dil visits him and asks why he implicated himself in the crime; Fergus replies that it is in his nature.
MY TAKE: This is an odd movie. It starts out like a war movie, and focuses on the relationship between captor and hostage. Then it switches to what you think is a love story, until Dil turns out to be transgender, which changes the tone of Dil and Fergus’s relationship. Then it switches back to a war/chase movie. Perhaps most interestingly, Dil kind of snaps at the end. I though the movie was building up to a confrontation between Fergus and Jude, but it ended up being Dil and Jude, then Dil and Fergus. Altogether though, I wasn’t thrilled by the movie, and I can’t really explain why. I did like the redemption part of it, how Fergus realizes what he has been doing and tries to change. Honestly, I think the transgender part might have killed some of the chemistry, because it puts a serious kink in the relationship between Dil and Fergus, and raises all sorts of questions that aren’t really addressed. For the purposes of the movie, I think it would have been just as good, perhaps better, if Dil wasn’t transgender. Jaye Davidson did a hell of a job, though — I really thought she was a woman (albeit with a really unique voice) for quite a while.