Picks and Pans Review: The Man Who Cried

updated 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro

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Ricci and Depp may be the stars of this period drama set in Paris on the eve of World War II, but Blanchett and Turturro steal the film. A small movie with big-movie yearnings, The Man Who Cried never comes together as a whole. Blanchett and Turturro, however, bring such gusto to their colorful roles that they carry a viewer through the arid stretches.

Director-writer Sally Potter (Orlando) follows the circuitous journey of a young Jewish woman (Ricci), born in Russia but raised in England, as she tries to reunite with her cantor father in America. She gets waylaid in Paris in the late 1930s, where she begins an affair with a taciturn Gypsy (Depp), rooms with a gabby Russian gold digger (Blanchett) and sings at an opera house where the star is a vain Italian tenor (Turturro). All four characters are outsiders, each trying to survive in a foreign land. When the Nazis goose-step down the Champs-Elysées, life becomes incalculably more difficult for all of them.

While sumptuous—love those period costumes and Paris settings—Man never engages emotionally. Ricci remains a stolid cipher throughout, while Depp gets by on smolder alone. Both are wan, passive figures, leaving it up to Blanchett and Turturro to provide spark, which they do, mercifully, by turning up the voltage on their characters' quirks. (R)

Bottom Line: Left us dry-eyed

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