Canada / French
"Growing up in this family, you'd have to be... C.R.A.Z.Y.
"C.R.A.Z.Y. Extraordinary lives of ordinary people in search of love and happiness - that's the premise of "C.R.A.Z.Y", a family drama unlike any other.
I'm In Love With C.R.A.Z.Y.!
I wasn't really sure what to expect of this film, because the majority
of what I'd read concerned the distribution issues in the US relating
to its soundtrack full of copyrighted songs. I now see why the
filmmakers can't remove those songs, and I also see why so many people
are desperate to see it released, because everyone deserves to see this
It's all about a devout Christian husband and wife in Quebec who have
five sons: Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zachary (j'adore!) and Yvan.
They're like a male French Canadian version of the Spice Girls: as
Zachary relates to us early in the film, we have Brainy (Christian);
Druggy (Raymond); Sporty (Antoine); Fairy (Zachary); and Fatty (Yvan).
The story begins with the birth of Zachary in the early 1960s, the
fourth child. He's born on Christmas Day, and is seen to have been
given a gift from God; the power to heal. As we'll see, he's certainly
destined to be different. His behaviour (dressing up in his mother's
clothes, wetting the bed, taking care of his baby brother) gets him
labelled a fag by his older brothers, the kids at school, and even his
We watch the boys grow up over the course of three decades. Before Z
becomes something of an alien in the family, he is the child most
favoured by his parents. His mother, already aware of his gift, dotes
on him, and his father is a hero to the young boy, with a great record
collection (the entire Patsy Cline back catalogue!), cool shades, and a
habit of taking Z for fries without the knowledge of his other sons.
However, as we follow the boys into their teens, it's clear that Z has
not been able to shake those early accusations of homosexuality. We see
him at 16 in his bedroom, shirtless and with Ziggy Stardust make-up on
his face, singing along passionately to 'Space Oddity'. All of a
sudden, Antoine bursts into the room and punches Z in the arm, knocking
him down and telling him, "stop singing along to that f%#king fag!
you're making us look like a bunch of fairies!", and as the camera pans
towards the bedroom window, we see a neighbourhood of children clapping
and jeering at Z's spirited performance. They had been watching the
Z gets a reputation at school for being queer, and this leads him to
rebel, threatening those who call him names, and beating the tar out of
a boy who shows some interest in him (and who later involuntarily leads
to a major falling out between Z and his father, ending up with Z in
therapy so that he can be "cured").
Z's occasional narration at one point stresses that two subjects have
become taboo in the family by the time he turns 21; himself and
Raymond. R makes a fascinating counterpoint with Z in terms of the
relationship to their father. In an early scene, several girls come
knocking for Raymond, and his dad proudly exclaims, "our son is a
Casanova!" This pride in his son's macho accomplishments causes him to
overlook R's drug habit until the consequences become almost disastrous
for the family. Even then, he deludes himself, believing that R is
clean, trying to get his life back in order, and constantly lends him
money, despite things continuing to go from bad to worse.
On the other hand, Z's sensitivity is not accepted with nearly the same
degree of pride as R's sexual precociousness; in fact, it isn't
accepted at all. Any accomplishment Z makes is belittled by his father,
and when Z's divine gift is confirmed by a local mystic, his father is
extremely skeptical. Things in their relationship improve when Z finds
a girlfriend. However, Z's behaviour deteriorates to the point where he
risks becoming like his older brother. His sexual confusion becomes so
extreme that it almost results in his death several times, while even a
small degree of acceptance from his father may have been enough to
resolve any guilt over his true sexuality, and allow mom and dad to
concentrate their concern on the *real* problem child -- Raymond.
While the theme of self-discovery and personal growth gives the film an
extremely strong emotional core, with a cast of thoroughly sympathetic,
complete characters (and it seems like an insult to refer to them as
just "characters" -- they are living, breathing people, as far as I'm
concerned), there is much entertainment to be had in the changing
fashions, developing attitudes and shifting cultural focus of the film.
Watching the gorgeous Marc-André Grondin (Zachary) going from tight
jeans and roller skates to sullen spikes and eyeliner to bronzed
globetrotter was a personal highlight! The soundtrack is also an
essential component of the film, reflecting Z's flowering love of
popular music, from his days spent in the passenger seat of his dad's
car, listening to Patsy Cline, to imagining a Midnight Mass erupting in
a chorus of 'Sympathy for the Devil' by The Stones, getting high to
Pink Floyd and downing liquor at the bar of an exotic gay club to early
House; it's the soundtrack to a life spent in search of himself, and
because of the power of pop music, we feel like we were there for every
tear shed, every punch thrown, every cigarette smoked and every longing
stare left to linger.
By the end of the film, I was nearly in tears. I'd been through an
emotional roller-coaster of a film with characters I'd grown to love,
and while the heart-stopping ending might have been responsible for my
emotional response, the tears in my eyes were there because, really, I
didn't want such a beautiful movie to end.
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