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C.R.A.Z.Y.

Director: JEAN-MARC VALLEE

CANADA • 2005 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 127 MIN.


Steeped in nostalgia and awash with ’60s and ’70s music, Montreal film-maker Jean-Marc Vallee’s affectionate but unflinching portrait of a suburban Catholic family over three turbulent decades opens with the birth of Zac, on Christmas Day 1960. Always his father’s favourite—despite a penchant for pushing prams and wearing his ultra-religious mother’s jewellery—Zac is torn between the demands of church and family and his own (un)natural inclinations. But when the cosmic sounds of the androgynous David Bowie drift into his orbit, Zac realises that he’s not a crazy ‘fag’ in need of psychiatric help. Au contraire, he’s Aladdin Sane.

Some early scenes are reminiscent of the charming French movie ‘Ma vie en rose’, but for all its extravagant fantasy sequences, ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.’ is a tough, realistic coming-of-age tale. Zac is one of five brothers, the oldest of whom progresses from cigarettes and marijuana to heroin. Family reunions, at which Zac’s father inevitably sings along to Charles Aznavour records, are disrupted by explosive family tensions. Finally, Zac himself is forced to leave home, embarking upon a journey of self-discovery which takes him to his mother Laurianne’s dreamed-of spiritual home, Jerusalem.

Written over a period of ten years, ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.’ is derived from director Vallee and his co-writer François Boulay’s own childhood memories; yet it pushes beyond mere semi-autobiography into something more challenging. True, the pacing is a little too steady, but you won’t be able to resist if you surrender yourself to Vallee’s sharp observations, the script’s warm humour and the evocative strains of Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamonds’.—Nigel Floyd.

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