C.R.A.Z.Y. is the story of five brothers born during the 60s and 70s in the French-speaking part of Canada, with the fourth, Zac, being gay. In a male-dominated family who have balanced religious attitudes with masculine values of varying sorts, it becomes very apparent that Zac is the odd-son-out. With David Bowie, Patsy Kline and the Rolling Stones providing the backing for his discoveries about life, God and himself he goes on a journey that literally takes him to the edge of death and back. Zac is played (between 15 and 21 years old) by Marc-André Grondin, and his depiction has a level of intensity that you very seldom get in coming-out films. The fact that he is astonishingly beautiful also doesn’t hurt.
This film is worth singling out because of all the coming-out stories we are subjected to in the LGBT community, this is by far the best. This is because it doesn’t shy away from depicting the suicidal thoughts, homophobia-masking-sexual-desire, and the truly gritty journeys some people have to go through just to find acceptance. And yet it manages to be funny, touching and just plain cool at the same time.
The story in C.R.A.Z.Y. is kept in sync with the musical devices employed – the movement through the most symbolic music of each decade makes it easy to empathise with what Zac is going through in each stage of his life as each song is chosen meticulously to emphasis the emotions he is experiencing at that time. That alone is an amazing piece of artistry. Music, it seems, is the easiest method to gain empathy from an otherwise cynical audience, but since it is all epic stuff we aren’t really too concerned.
With the relationship between Zac and his mother continually at the forefront of the story, an intelligent discussion on the role faith plays in our lives is maintained – something that is particularly poignant given the current opposition of some religious bodies to same-sex marriage in this country. Religious belief and acceptance of others are two concepts that are not mutually exclusive, and Danielle Proulx does a fantastic job as Zac’s mother - her character balances a lot of issues in her family but manages to still be the voice of reason and compassion at all times.
I fell in love with foreign films after first watching Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain. From there, I kept going for Spanish films like Volver and Pan’s Labyrinth, then back to French and other foreign-language films, and this is one of the reasons I love to review the genre for So So Gay. But C.R.A.Z.Y. stands apart as it does not conform to any of the standard rules inherent in that genre – it does not reveal fantastically odd things about the society in question, nor does it ask for moral judgement using a Western view on an otherworldly sense of right and wrong. It just takes place at a different time, and this is something so simple but a lot of film-makers tend to get it wrong. There is no need to make certain parts of your heritage stand out more to make it more authentic, and this is a mistake that even British films have made. C.R.A.Z.Y., however, does not.
Everything else aside, this is a touching depiction of one kind of life in Canada during decades past and well worth a look because, if nothing else, there will be at least one of the brothers that you get the hots for.
C.R.A.Z.Y. is available to purchase on DVD from Amazon.