C.R.A.Z.Y. Movie Review
On Christmas Day 1960, proud mom Laurianne Beaulieu (Danielle Proulx) gives birth to her fourth boy as dad Gervais (Michel Cote) smokes up a storm in the waiting room. As he grows, little Zachary (Emile Vallee) is deemed to be special. His mother is convinced that like Jesus, he has healing powers. Dad, however, is concerned that Zac is a bit of a sissy and not at all like any of his brothers: the troublemaker, the jock, or the egghead. A hardworking man, Gervais is proud of his family and loves to entertain them with his lip-synced Charles Aznavour songs and his Patsy Cline records, but he's also a tough disciplinarian and a worrier.
By the time the boys are teenagers, the '70s are in full swing and things are starting to fall apart. Older brother Raymond (Pierre-Luc Brillant), the rough one, is already into drugs, and Zac (now played by the outstanding Marc-Andre Grondin) is locked in his bedroom painting his face like Ziggy Stardust and singing along to "Space Oddity" in what must be one of the most dead-on depictions of adolescent sexual confusion ever filmed. Gervais grows angry and distant, Raymond gets kicked out, Mom gives birth to yet another son, and Zac buzzes around on a motorbike trying desperately to like girls even as he indulges in quick assignations with neighborhood boys.
In the movie's most uplifting moment, literally, Zac levitates in church while the entire congregation sings along to "Sympathy for the Devil." It's his moment of clarity, but it won't be long until his fairy-fearing father drags him to a shrink and then refuses to accept him when the truth finally comes out at the disastrous and alcohol-soaked wedding of one of his brothers. Zac and his father are now estranged, and Zac heads off to the Holy Land to look for answers. Will the two ever be able to reconcile?
C.R.A.Z.Y.'s productions notes reveal that writer/director Jean-Marc Valle took only a small salary to save budget money for the expensive music rights that he felt he had to have. Good call. The soundtrack propels the story through time, and whether it's Patsy Cline or the Stones or Bowie or Pink Floyd or Jefferson Airplane, the music proves essential, anchoring the film in its time and providing, along with the incredible period production design, a powerful sense of reality, even when the movie experiments with bits of magical realism.
Young Grondin takes Zac from 15 to 30 and is in almost every scene. He carries the film effortlessly, changing wardrobes and hairstyles to suit the times. (He's an excellent Bowie, by the way.) C.R.A.Z.Y. drops you into a fully rendered world that you've never seen before and won't soon forget. It's a delight.
Gnarls Barkley knows.