The Man Who Cried Abel Mason is a man caught in a loveless marriage with a harridan wife who constantly berates him and beats their son Dick. When the one woman he loves dies at the hands of her husband after he was sent a letter by Mason’s wife, exposing the affair, Abel leaves her for good taking to the road and young Dick with him.
Love in the time of depression
The Man Who Cried To deal with the spoiler at once – if it is one – and then have done with it: to intensify the realism of the film most of the figures have to speak their local northern dialect, which makes it rather difficult to understand for foreigners as myself. This is a pity as the description of a nation going through an economic depression is very convincingly shown as a background for the love-story (or rather love-stories) and would be interesting in other countries, too.
Besides, the central figure Abel Mason would appeal to his audience everywhere: This is a part which seems to have been invented from the beginning for the marvellous powers of Ciaran Hinds in presenting complicated characters. On the one hand side Abel seems to be of an old fashioned strict morality which shuts out all light-hearted play with women, on the other hand he even sails into bigamy. While serving a one-year-sentence in prison there exist (quite different) relations to three women, but even the judge is convinced that everything happened in and by good intentions.
One of these intentions is Able’s search for a peaceful and secure place for his ten year old son to grow up. The relations to this son are beautifully acted from both sides and deeply moving for the spectator. Hinds is able to show quite another side of Able’s character: There is the labourer desperately looking for work – but not under all conditions! There is the relatively young man looking for a really true love; and there is the careful and tender father, in spite of all his sorrows able to laugh with his son.
As the film develops the tragedy mainly on the faces of the actors, long parts can be understood without language – strengthening the general human appeal of its story.
There is more than one answer to the question: “Why does the man cry?” – and this is part of its fascination.