[Previous episodes of The Catherine Cookson Experience here.]
This week, the CCE delivers my biggest letdown so far: Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root, stars of the Persuasion (best Austen adaptation ever), team up again!
And man, they suck.
Welcome to The Man Who Cried, which is about a good-looking dude (Ciaran Hinds: well cast, casting person) who keeps tripping and falling into ladies, which disgusts him, just disgusts him. Why won’t these women stop getting with him, damn? He spends four hours being emo about how he just wants to be Left Alone with some other woman than the one he’s with at the moment. (Doesn’t matter which woman he’s with; he wants a new one.)
Era: 1930s, just before WWII
Heroine: Ciaran Hinds.
Siblings that require looking-after: His ten-year-old kiddo.
Illegitimate (Self or sibling): He begets one! Nice job, Ciaran.
Asshole Father?: Yeah, Ciaran.
Romantic interest(s): Every woman on the planet.
Fistfights: Largely nonviolent, except for ladies lunging at Ciaran and attempting to climb him like a tree.
Assaults: See above. SIT DOWN, LADIES.
“Even the CREDITS are crying, you guys.”
We meet our hero as he brings his son to the beach to cheat on his wife with this lady. His son is boring, both here and in the SEVEN YEARS LATER part, so you won’t see him here.
His wife doesn’t like all the cheating.
She tips off the other woman’s husband, who then shoots the other woman. WHOOPS. Ciaran is pissed to the MAX. He grabs that kiddo of his and hits the road, as “Just a Gigolo” softly plays in the background.
They trudge for a while, but it’s ten scenes of the same thing, so just imagine this ten times:
CIARAN: Have you got work?
Then he runs into a mom and daughter on a boat. They BOTH like the look of him.
He’s like, “I wish you’d stop looking at me like a piece of meat! God, what do you think I am, some kind of man who cheats around? I am MARRIED, okay? Women are disgusting skanks, son, and don’t you ever forget it.”
Then he meets Hilda, She’s married to an old dude with one foot in the grave and a big farm estate. Here, she looks at him as if to say, “Wow, you look like you have a LOT of diseases.”
Ciaran’s like, “If anyone asks, Mommy’s dead, okay? Great, thanks, kiddo.”
(To his credit, the kiddo looks like he knows this is total bull pocky.)
Ciaran starts work for the family, counting the days until Mr .Maxwell drops off the twig and he can swoop in and capture the heart of the virginal (and actually virgin, fun fact!) Hilda.
THEN (I’m telling you!) he meets Hilda’s sister, Adultery Jones.
She’s pleased to make his acquaintance.
Having decided the wisest course of action, Ciaran sits down with Hilda for a heart-to-heart.
(That lamp is sideways. It bugs me so much I screencapped it. I’m sick.)
CIARAN: Since I’m lower class and I don’t want to bother you by having people looking down on you marrying someone lower class, why don’t we just have sex a lot and NOT get married
and then I can sleep with your sister on the side without technically being either a bigamist or an adulterer?
HILDA: Or we could get married.
CIARAN: Or that.
(I really can’t express how sad I am that these two had NO chemistry in this production. Once or twice, when they were fighting, there was some nice energy, but that’s just two good actors reciting lines well. Considering how amazing they were together in Persuasion, I was dumbstruck at how crappy this was. You disappoint me, Awesome British Actor Camp!)
So, despite his inclinations, they get married.
That goes about as well as expected. This happens ten times:
HILDA: Could you stop sleeping with my sister?
CIARAN: Why? YOU won’t sleep with me.
HILDA: Because you are DIDDLING my SISTER.
CIARAN: God, what is your DEAL?
[All metaphorically trudge.]
Then there are some plot points that sort of happen in a jumble, designed to make us feel sympathy for the Man Who is a Total Jackwad: his estranged wife shows up and lands him in court (for bigamy? For sucking? Who knows), and he barely escapes prison (or he goes and I didn’t notice, this section kind of went on forever), and long story short, he sucks as much as ever, only now he’s poor and kicked out of Hilda’s house (yay!).
He lives with Adultery Jones for a while (she’s growing herself a bairnsketball!), and Hilda spends most of her time managing the home estate and raising Ciaran’s son, who has turned out very well, loves Hilda immensely, and seems suitably apologetic for having a dad who’s an enormous hooker.
Meanwhile, World War II looms.
Above: World War II, looming adorably.
War hits England hard, and by war I mean “a single bomb” and by England I mean “Adultery Jones’s house.” She gets trapped in the rubble like a good adulteress should.
That arm wound is about to bleed out in a major way.
Luckily, she’s already had the baby, and we all know that once a woman’s had a baby she’s useless, so no one’s too sad about her dying. Hilda takes the baby home to raise, and Ciaran sits around for half an hour feeling sorry for himself until Hilda invites him to the house to take a look at his infant kid, and say hello to his suddenly-25-year-old son.
He is overwhelmed with self-pity.
Poor Ciaran! How you must have suffered! Why won’t the ladies just leave you alone?