Thursday, March 26, 2009


In a shameless promotion of local (Québec) films, I’ve decided to write about a few, starting with “C.R.A.Z.Y.” . It won most of the major awards here, did well throughout Canada and was exported to a few other countries... where it was somewhat dismissed and from the reviews I read in the U.S. press it seemed misunderstood or at least badly promoted.

At it’s heart a period family drama focusing on a son who really would like to fit in with everyone else but can’t. He is obsessed with Bowie and flirts with homo and bisexuality (who didn’t in the 70’s?) which completely alienates him from his macho father who gives his older brother (a drug addicted loser) most of the attention and affection.

The father is oddly obsessed with the song “Crazy” and even has 5 kids so he give each a name starting with a letter from the word (Our main character is named Zach, making him the second youngest). Stereotyping would imply a casual questioning of sexuality on dad’s part for this choice of music, but that is really not the case. Also not the case was that this film is a “coming out” story for Zach in the current sense of the phrase. We actually never really are let in on Zach’s ultimate choice of sexuality if he ever makes one. It is clear he loved and still loved at the end his girlfriend, he does experiment with a guy while traveling the world (looking for a rare copy of “Crazy” so he can replace dad’s copy he broke) but he never really becomes a “gay” character... just one more in tune with who is really is. Most of the reviews I read in English really harped on this being gay story and nothing else.

I think the performances are really all great. The lead (Marc-André Grondin) just won France’s highest acting award (a 1st for a Québec actor) and everyone else is seems perfect in their roles. In the interest of full disclose, the father (Michel Côté) is married to the sister of a friend of mine and he’s a really charming person in real life. This was the first film of his I’ve seen (I hope he never reads this) and his reputation as great actor is well deserved.

Jean-Marc Vallée, the director and co-writer keeps the whole thing together and moving along. This film was “high budget” for Québec, about 5 million dollars. An American TV spot cost more than that, yet he manages a rich, detailed world with seamless effect shots and clever editing.

It is a tear-jerker, especially at the end but at the very last moment it pulls off a very funny gag that pulls together everything that’s happened before it.

I bought a copy for someone in the USA (a huge Bowie fan, so I thought he might relate) but he seemed to brush the film off. It makes me wonder if there is some “Québec-centric” element to it that doesn’t translate well outside the province.
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