Saturday, 1 January 2011


Title: C.R.A.Z.Y.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Released: 2005
Staring: Marc-André Grondin, Michel Côté, Danielle Proulx, Pierre-Luc Brillant, Alex Gravel, Maxime Tremblay, Mariloup Wolfe, Francis Ducharme

Rating: 4 / 5

Plot: Zachary (Grondin) is struggling to find his own identity, whilst growing up with his four brothers and dealing with the ongoing conflict between his own confused sexuality and the desire to please his strict father (Côté).

Review: The legend goes that nearly everyone in Quebec - whose population is around five million – have seen this film, which honestly after seeing this film I can really understand why, as this is more than just another coming of age tale about awakening sexuality. It’s also a film about a family’s own disfunctionality and the things which bound them together, even as events happening around them continually threaten to pull them apart, which is what in turns makes this such a funny and moving film and much more than the underlying sexual awaking which is more of a sub-plot than anything close to the main story, something I have found myself especially stressing when I have spoken to anyone about this film, even more so when so many synopsis are keen to make it seem like it’s the only plot here, rather than the rich tapestry of colourful characters and memorable sequences, all tied together with a pretty bad ass soundtrack and dryly humorous narration from Zac

The main bones of the story, follow the relationship between Zac and his Father, with Zac clearly from a young age being his father’s favourite, while keeping a watchful eye over to ensure that he grows up properly, as he frowns upon his son playing with carriages and clearly missing the irony of his own camp Patsy Cline obsession, all the while ignoring the insistence by his wife (Proulx) that it’s perfectly normal behaviour along with her belief in his supposed faith healing abilities. The moment this father son relationship suffering a major derailing though, is when he catches Zac dressed in his mothers pearls and heels, despite this being actually an innocent attempt by Zac to calm his crying baby brother. Needless to say this suspicion regarding his son’s sexuality stays with him throughout, despite the fact that Zac never truly understands his own sexuality, acting almost like a sexual tourist rather than someone experiencing their sexual awakening as he embarks on relationships with girls, while also engaging in blow backs while smoking pot, lusting after his cousin and even a spot of voyeurism, as he watches the sport lays of his elder brother Raymond (Brilliant), watching from the safety of a bedroom closet, while later regaling his peers with tales of his brothers sexual conquests. Still by the film’s end he is closer to bi-sexual, while certainly none the clearer on his own sexuality.

The rest of his family from the outset could be seen as stereotypical caricatures, what with the book worm, the jock etc, with only his older brother Raymond, receiving the time from director Vallée to be fleshed out further, especially as he descends further into drug addiction, as a result of his care free lifestyle, which bizarrely is more expectable to his father than being gay, who generally seems to encourage any behaviour which can be seen in a macho light.

Vallée like Tarantino is certainly a director who likes to work with his soundtrack, as like Tarantino’s soundtracks, the soundtrack here plays an equally important part, beyond establishing the period and mood, as he frequently uses these musical ques for flights of fantasy, including the parishioners attending midnight mass to suddenly bursting into the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” as Zac floats up above the masses. While Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” features strongly, alongside Ziggy Stardust era Bowie, clearly representing Zac’s growing confusion about himself, in much the same way that these song represent similar themes of madness, confusion and the glam rock blurring of the line of sexuality.

It could be argued that it perhaps runs alittle too long at over two hours, but when these characters are so fascinating to watch, especially for the occastional surreal moments, such as Zac’s mother ironing toast, while her junkie son is going through withdrawal on the coach, so I can’t say that I was overly bothered by spending so much time in their company, even if at times it seemed like the story didn’t seem to know were it was going, as especially highlighted by Zac taking a sudden pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which is thankfully devoid of any religious significance, which was to be half expected as a lesser film might no doubt have used religion to save Zac’s soul, but even this moment of spontaneity doesn’t bring us any closer to a satisfactory conclusion, with the film almost seeming to end suddenly, though not before explaining it’s title, which is actually quite a subtle and fun joke. Still despite Vallée not wrapping everything up in a neat conclusion the film still feels complete in a way, for real life doesn’t come with neat happy conclusions and it’s this thought which Vallée almost seems to share with the ending he has chosen.

While it might not be for everyone, especially with it’s spontaneous style of storytelling, it is still worth watching once, after all Five Million French Canadians can’t be wrong can they?


  1. I have seen this, it did run on a little too long for me, but wasn't bad, definately worth a one time watch i think, great post

  2. True it might run alittle long and need some trimming in places, but it's still probably one of my favourite films of this blogging year.

  3. How spontaneous is the style of storytelling? I think this might be my cup of tea xD

  4. The film feels spontaneous largely due to the fact that the events of the film flow from one to the other with no desire to force characters into situations to heighten drama. At the same time there is never any kind of desire to stick to any form or plot point A leads to plot point B.

    Even now it is still one of those films I love to tell people about, especially as it's so painfully overlooked.

  5. Great review, Elwood. I've seen this film but unfortunately I don't think the spontaneous style works well for me. I found it simply too disjointed, but a fun ride nonetheless. I appreciated your take. Thanks for contributing to the blogathon!

    1. Thanks Caroline, it's been fun to take part much less revisit films, which I might have overlooked for other films.

      Still the blogathon's are really highlighting this film as a real Marmite movie, but I would urge anyone to see it atleast once.


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