Sally Potter's sweeping historical epic may feature some of the most bizarre casting in recent memory, but it's impossible not to succumb to its lush romanticism and irresistible fusion of contrasting musical styles.
Stretching from 1920s Russia to 1940s Hollywood, Potter's saga follows Jewish immigrant Fegele (Claudia Lander-Duke) as she flees the pogroms to become a foster child in England. Forbidden to speak Yiddish and renamed Suzie, she harbours a desire to be reunited with her beloved father (Oleg Yankovsky), who left to find work in America and was never heard of again.
Ten years later, the adult Suzie (played by Christina Ricci in the first of Potter's dubious casting decisions) moves to Paris and joins the chorus of a fledgling opera company. There she befriends Russian dancer Lola (Cate Blanchett, odd choice number two) and falls in love with Gypsy horse-handler Cesar (a gold-toothed Johnny Depp, hilariously out of place).
Lola takes up with arrogant tenor Dante Dominio (John Turturro), but the outbreak of war puts all their futures in jeopardy.
Majestically photographed by Sacha Vierney (look out for the sensational shot of an empty Place de la Concorde, totally vacated for one night only), this is a typically eclectic affair from the director of "Orlando" and "The Tango Lesson".
The plot is all over the shop, and the same applies to the way Potter freely mixes Italian opera, Gypsy airs, and jaunty Yiddish Klezmer.
Despite this, "The Man Who Cried" emerges as a heartfelt exercise in quality film-making.