The Crying Game| 1992
Plenty of London locations in Neil Jordan’s film, which sees IRA man Fergus (Stephen Rea) becoming involved with Dil (Jaye Davidson), the partner of the British soldier he was supposed to kill. After more than 20 years, I assume I don’t have to issue a spoiler alert – in view of the Oscar category for which Jaye Davidson was nominated.
The opening Irish scenes were filmed on location at Laytown in South Armagh.
You won't be able to get your hair done at Dil’s salon; it was an empty building - now a shop –- at 3 Fournier Street in Spitalfields. For a long time, this was the centre for immigrant communities – first Huguenot, then Jewish, and now it’s the heart of Banglatown. The undeveloped working class streets were ripe for gentrification and Spitalfields more recently became the centre for Britart, being the long-time home to Gilbert & George and Tracey Emin, and her Emin International Shop on Crispin Street.
On Crispin Street, too, only a few hundred yards away, you’ll find the digs occupied by Fergus after he flees to London from Ireland. It’s the old Crispin Street Women's Refuge, Crispin Street, built in 1868 and in use until the 1970s. The Sisters of Mercy provided accommodation here not just for 300 women and children, but 50 men, too.
Once a notorious slum district, this was the haunt of the Victorian serial killer and tabloid villain known to history as Jack the Ripper. You can hardly avoid bumping into – or you may even join – one of the endless stream of walking tours. You know the style – “A horrendous sight greeted his eyes...”.
A couple of doors from the Fournier Street location is the Ten Bells pub, which was the haunt of many of the killer’s victims. The famous pub was replicated (on the outskirts of Prague) as a setting for From Hell, with Johnny Depp). Also included in the Hughes Brothers' impressive recreation of 19th century Spitalfields, for their film of the graphic novel, was Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church Spitalfields, across Fournier Street.
The ’Metro Bar’, where Dil sings the title song, was for many years the London Apprentice, a large and really quite frisky gay bar. It’s been relaunched as Mother, 333 Old Street (tube: Old Street, Northern Line), a refreshingly informal (for increasingly style-conscious Hoxton) club. Its new incarnation is visited by Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack in Mel Smith’s 2001 caper comedy High Heels and Low Lifes.
The exterior, however, is an empty property behind the pub on the corner of the quaintly cobbled Coronet Street and Boot Street, Hoxton, N1. The ‘Metro’ logo was still visible until recently. The wasteland behind, where Fergus sorts out Dil’s problem, has since been built up.
The gardens in which Fergus skulks to watch Dil are in nearby Hoxton Square. Dil’s apartment, where the goldfish meet a sad end on the pavement, is 8-9 Hoxton Square – which true to the area’s reputation for relentless gentrification – is now cocktail bar Happiness Forgets. But check back in around ten minutes – things change fast. That’s Hoxton for you.
Irish terrorist Jude (Miranda Richardson) spies on the couple at classic Indian restaurant, Clifton, now Preem & Prithi Balti House, 124-126 Brick Lane, E1, which still boasts the striking murals seen in the film. Brick Lane is London’s Banglatown – the heart of the Bangladeshi community and almost every other business in the street is a curry house.
Dil follows Fergus to the Lowndes Arms pub, which stood at 37 Chesham Street, SW1, northeast of Sloane Square. The bar has since closed down and been revamped as a private house with no clue to its former use. It stands opposite the ‘discreet knocking shop’ where the IRA carries out its bloodily bungled attack on the judge, at 100 Eaton Place. I don’t have to add that this is not a – discreet or otherwise – knocking shop.