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1996 - Make Major Room For British Actor Rupert Graves.

Author: Henri Behar.
Publication: Tbc.

Richard Spence's ''Different for Girls'' is a fresh take on Neal Jordan's ''The Crying Game''. Karl and Paul were best mates at school in the '70s and Paul always protected Karl as they both contested authority, from the principal down to the Students' Body.

Years later, they meet again in present-day London, but the ever-so-charming and ever-so-promising Paul has become a social disaster stuck in a dead-end job (he's a messenger), and Karl, well, has become Kim. A woman. The friendship will (slowly) be renewed, but on definitely different terms.

As Karl/Kim the transsexual (looking like an odd combination of Maggie Smith and Margaret Thatcher with a touch of Julie Waters), Steven Mackintosh is exceptional (he had also appeared in ''Memphis Belle' and ''Princess Caraboo'').

Rupert Graves is no less extraordinary. The guy got his break in James Ivory's ''A Room With A View'', segued with ''Maurice'' (also Ivory), in which he co-starred with Hugh Grant. He was also in Louis Malle's ''Damage'' and in Nick Hytner's ''The Madness of King George''.

You always thought he was a stuck-up kind of fellow? Think again. If you haven't seen him on a London stage, nothing he's done in films quite prepares you for his punk-de-charm performance.

Extrovert, energetic, vulnerable -- and a total mess -- he is so spontaneous you never realise there's a huge intelligence at work here, and strong instincts for split-second decisions and high-wire acts (but then what do you expect? He dropped out of school to join the circus!).

He's so good he could elbow Hugh Grant out of frame and give Robert Downey Jr. at his most romantic quite a run for his money.

©1996 Henri Behar.