With Wild now out, I take a look at C.R.A.Z.Y. the film that brought director Jean-Marc Vallée into the spotlight.
What’s it about: Covering about thirty years, C.R.A.Z.Y. follows the life of Zac, the fourth of five boys growing up in 70s/80s Quebec. Born into a devout Catholic family, Zac’s queer identity is nurtured by his mother and causes friction with his father and brothers. In many ways, it is a typical coming of age film as Zac struggles to define himself and find his place in a world that doesn’t acknowledge some of the most basic and important elements of his identity. However, Vallée’s unique visual style combined with the incredibly detailed setting manage to circumvent many of the clichés associated with the genre.
Who’s in it: Michel Coté, Marc-André Grondin, Danielle Proulx
When it came out: 2005
How come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: C.R.A.Z.Y. was critically acclaimed, winning the best Canadian feature at TIFF and cleaning up at the Genie Awards (did anyone ever watch these?) but it is Canadian film and features lower profile actors, especially outside of Quebec. It did quite well in Quebec, but even with the solid reviews it only got minimal play in select theatres in English Canada. Unless you follow Canadian film, you probably missed it.
Why you need to watch it–immediately!
- It is the very best of Canadian cinema. C.R.A.Z.Y. is about as close to a perfect film as it gets. It’s an accessible art film
- It has a great soundtrack. From David Bowie and Pink Floyd to Patsy Cline, Vallée managed to get the rights to some of the best music of the period. C.R.A.Z.Y. also does a great job of integrating the music into the film, operating as an internal monologue for the characters
- Star Marc-Andre Grondin is brilliant, and nice to look at to boot
- It’s really slick and stylish
- Vallée’s major strength as a filmmaker is managing to not only get into his characters head, but to represent thought audiovisually. C.R.A.Z.Y. does this better than any of his other films
- The horrible but also kind of awesome 70s and 80s fashion
- C.R.A.Z.Y. explores the good and the bad of Christianity, but does so in a way that is never condemning or preachy, which is something that is really rare on screen
- C.R.A.Z.Y. might be the most perfect title for a film ever, because it’s not too obvious, but once the meaning clicks, it makes perfect sense and seamlessly ties everything together