Being gay and having your father hate you for it is not a new concept. Hell, they even covered it in Dawson’s Creek. So I was a bit dubious about watching C.R.A.Z.Y, simply because I’ve seen it all before. But CRAZY (I’m omitting the full stops because it’s just plain annoying to type) has an ace up its sleeve. As well as the ‘I’m gay and my father can’t handle it’ story, there’s an extra ‘religious faith healer’ angle. Interesting…
So we have little Zach, growing up with four brothers and struggling to deal with the very ‘trait’ his father constantly puts down. Zach was born on Christmas day, making him a) grumpy that his birthday has to be shared with Jesus, and b) ‘special’ in his mother’s eyes, supposedly blessed with the ability to heal. As Zach gets older, he finds it more difficult to hide his true feelings and keep his dad happy at the same time. Oh, and he doesn't believe in healing anymore. But sometimes he does.
So what’s good about it? Well, Marc-Andre Grondin, who plays teenage to twenty-something Zach. I found him to be an engaging and likeable lead, not just because I may have fancied the pants off him. He managed to portray the rebellious teen who just wants to be loved without coming across like a brat, and handled his growing fondness for men with confidence, especially when considering the lucky bastard is a year younger than me in real life. The direction (by Jean-Marc Vallee) is punchy and playful, incorporating fantasy scenes without resembling Ally McBeal, and there are some great moments of humour mixed with real poignancy.
Unfortunately, CRAZY struggles with themes and, well, the point. There are lots of neat ideas and characters that are never really played out to their fullest. Apart from his druggy loser older brother, Zach’s other siblings are just background (and why does the clever one have to be wearing glasses? And the exact same pair of glasses ten years later – what, does the director think we’re so stupid that we need such an obvious visual clue to pinpoint which grown-up character is which. Why not add name tags just to be sure.) The whole ‘is Zach a healer’ thing is an interesting side-line, but it’s never really concluded, which makes it feel a bit, well, pointless. It’s like they started out with all these ideas and then didn’t know what to do with them. So instead they send Zach to the desert and have him rescued by some passing travellers. Eh?
The film is a hefty 127 minutes long. You can get a lot into two hours, but CRAZY just doesn’t. Sure, there are some really effective scenes in there, but it’s like having a neat stack of cards and dropping them on the floor. You start off with some structure, but end up with a sprawling mess. I did like most of this film, (the soundtrack was especially good) but it needs tightening up, stripping down, and a clearer idea of what it’s trying to say. However, the acting and bouncy direction manage to bring it up to 7.