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aka - C.R.A.Z.Y.
Canada 2005
Directed by
Jean-Marc Vallee
125 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Jean-Marc Vallée’s film which he co-wrote with François Boulay is a modest but skillfully-crafted film, both a dysfunctional (is there any other kind these days?) family dramedy and a spot-on retro-fest that manages to cover a surprisingly large amount of ground with intelligence, credibility and style.

Zac Beaulieu (Marc-Andre Grondin) is the fourth child of a working-class Quebecois family who was born on December 25th, 1960. His auspicious birth date gives him a certain cachet, especially with his devout Catholic mother (Danielle Proulx) but his father, Gervais (Michel Côté), and siblings, are less impressed. The issue that worries Zac. however, is that he might be gay.

Spanning the first two decades of Zac’s life (with a short coda when he is in his thirties) the film is an impressively economical portrait of the times as it charts the rapid changes in hair, wardrobe, auto and, most importantly, music fashions while it tells Zac’s story, which is narrated by him in flashback.

Vallée hits just the right notes in capturing the young man’s awkwardness as Zac tries with little success to place himself in the world, particularly with respect to his father, a devotee of Charles Aznavour and Patsy Cline, whose song “Crazy” gives the film its title and provides a clue to his repressed personality. 

Rather than articulating Zac’s story dramatically head-on Vallée approaches it obliquely and episodically.  Thus when we see Zac for the first  time it is Christmas Day and he is opening a hockey set that his father has given him although his mother knows that he really wanted a pram. Later we see him imagining himself levitating over the congregation to the tune of “Sympathy For The Devil” and later again miming to Bowie’s “Starman”, only to realize that half the street has been watching him.  These are beautiful visual devices which give the film a lightness of story-telling touch without in any way diminishing the depth of insight into the angst in everyday life for an ordinary family.




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