My dictation in the Movie Dictator Club for the month of June, 2011 is Canadian, eh!
Written By: François Boulay & Jean-Marc Vallée
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée
Father and son relationships are hard, or so I’ve heard. I’ve also heard they are great, as well as terrible, unforgiving, devastating, wonderful, and so on. I’ve heard a lot about the relationship that develops between a father and a son as that son grows up, but I know nothing of that sort of relationship myself. My father wasn’t around when I was growing up, the man who became my father didn’t enter the motion picture of my life until I was already a legal, physical, and mental (okay, mental is stretching it) adult. I’ve always been amazed at the intricacies of the parent/child relationship, but I’m especially in awe of the father/son relationship, and C.R.A.Z.Y. managed to tap into that awe.
C.R.A.Z.Y. isn’t a film that went where I expected, it didn’t go down the typical troubled family, rebellious youth, or homosexually blossoming path that were open to the film. When I figured out what the core issue of C.R.A.Z.Y. was going to be, Zachary’s possible homosexuality clashing with the heteronormative views of his father, I thought I had the movie pegged. As the time rolled by I was surprised that easy avenues were left unexplored, and in fact Zachary’s homosexuality melded into the much larger issue of a boy’s relationship with his father. I’m not saying that the film is not about homosexuality, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t recognized that homosexuality plays a large role in the thematic depth of the film. François Boulay & Jean-Marc Vallée did, however, write a script where homosexuality wasn’t the issue being tackled. The bond between father and son is the issue being tackled, Zachary doesn’t believe in that bond to begin with, his homosexuality only serves to further enhance his disbelief.
By not taking any of the easy paths C.R.A.Z.Y. has to rely on the audience engaging with the films characters. Because the film is using a serious social issue to look at a relationship within a family it can’t rely on large moments and prophetic monologues. There’s an intimate atmosphere that C.R.A.Z.Y. transmits, as the characters grow older I had no choice but to grow with them. I was interested in the choices they would make, in the ways that Zachary would continue to frame his world. Intimacy is never forgotten in C.R.A.Z.Y., it’s the reason that moments such as Raymond suddenly defending Zachary at Christian’s wedding is powerful. As the audience we know where Raymond is headed, there is no question of that, but a moment like the wedding allows us to see deeper into him and deeper into the things that make this family tick. It’s apropos that Raymond’s moment of defending is followed by Gervais, the father, lashing out at Zachary. His son’s homosexuality has reached a level that is far too intimate for him, he can’t hide it in the back of his mind any longer. C.R.A.Z.Y. is full of moments such as the wedding, those moments drew me in and allowed me to grow with the Beaulieu family more than any conventional path would have.
There are instances in C.R.A.Z.Y. where the director, Jean-Marc Vallée, is a little too flashy. The zoom that goes from Zachary’s room in Jerusalem to following him in the desert is one such instance. It’s a decent piece of cinema by itself, but within the larger context of the film it stands out as too flashy and attention seeking. There aren’t many flashy moments, but that is also a problem because when they do occur they stick out like a sore thumb. C.R.A.Z.Y. works best in its small moments when the story it has to tell unfolds naturally.
I left C.R.A.Z.Y. convinced that Gervais was in his heart a good father, and that Zachary was a good son. Their relationship suffered some bumps along the way, but the relationship strengthened because of those bumps. C.R.A.Z.Y. is an engaging film with a relationship that I cared about at its center. C.R.A.Z.Y. can be viewed as a coming out story, but I think that is selling it short. C.R.A.Z.Y. is about a relationship, and a character’s homosexuality just happens to be a part of that relationship.