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The Crying Game, Directed by Neil Jordan

Miramax Films, November 27, 1992 (US)

Screenplay: Neil Jordan

Starring: Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, and Forest Whitaker

Shhh! Lean in closer. A bit more. Better. Whispering’s necessary because I’ve got a secret.

Swear never to repeat what you’re about to hear. I took an initial beating inside a darkened room tucked within the hulking Pacific Design Center, tailored along a main drag of West Hollywood, California. Outside, dark skies hung suspended as a canopy of velvety black, while wafts of bracing fall air socked the Los Angeles Basin. Muscles stiffened from Beverly Hills to the Pacific Ocean, in anticipation of the next bruising punch. As ill-prepared as I was for a sudden seasonal smackdown, I more surprisingly didn't expect to get belted by something so unexpected—so shocking—that the scene felt ripped from a movie. Oddly enough, the night pitted my wits against a sneaky independent film, and gullibility left me wholly defenseless.

An intimate audience gathered at the building’s auditorium for an advance screening of the latest Miramax film. Little about the feature was known, but the then New York-based motion picture distributor had established an enviable reputation for producing prestigious and occasionally bullying material, daring to tackle subjects dismissed by studio rivals. Venturing into shady territory lingered a distinct possibility for everyone in attendance, and I presumed to withstand any hook tossed my way. The theatre lights dimmed.

And then. . . .

Seventeen years later, a significant piece of the evening remains annihilated, struck clear from memory. It’s been suggested that blackouts manifest themselves as a side effect of head trauma. My brain had definitely been clubbed by a narrative knockout that November. A serious trouncing stands as good an explanation as any for why I vividly recall certain details leading up to the film and the story itself but, for the life of me, cannot remember with whom I saw it.

I've replayed what I remember over and over. The invitation admitted a guest and me. That's customary. Nevertheless, making plans with someone to accompany draws a blank. I definitely drove to the theatre alone. I am also certain someone met me based on a lifetime of routine; attending a movie solo is so uncommon that those rare occurrences leave an indelible imprint. Try as I might, there's simply no recollection of the face next to mine, the person to whom I must have turned the moment the lights came up ... the friend at the receiving end of an enthusiastic reaction to the cinematic whammy I'd just absorbed, sending me into a tizzy—the depths of which were not immediately evident.

Mental blocks concerning a companion's identity are entirely out of character (pick a movie I've seen, and I'll tell you where and with whom I saw it), underscoring how the magnitude of this particular film eclipsed my sense of reality. An exhausted effort to recover the irretrievable name of a comrade signified the final blow in a series of hits that left me reluctant to disclose the struggle until now.

I feel horrible. I really do. Heaven forbid the erased person takes the lapse personally. My battered body must've shut down to cushion me from the entanglements taxing my brain. The involuntary coping mechanism also ensured some part of the altercation between what transpired on screen and me remained discreet. Without the diversion, there’d exist a possibility I’d prattle on and on about grander pronouncements from the experience, which are best kept on the q.t.