Published Nov 01, 2005A TIFF '05 audience favourite, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a funny, infectious ride through Quebecois pop culture of the '60s and '70s. The movie is seen through the eyes of narrator Zachary Beaulieu (Marc-André Grondin), who was born on Christmas Day, 1960, and has hated sharing that Holy Day with his birthday ever since. Zac is raised in a middleclass family alongside three brothers he can't stand, an affectionate mother (Danielle Proulx), who irons toast in the morning, and a warm but traditional father (Quebec star Michel Côté) who lip-synchs to Charles Aznavour records at family functions.
Like his dad, Zac expresses himself through music, and C.R.A.Z.Y. is bursting with songs by Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. In one memorable scene, Zac sings along to Space Oddity with intensity so that he can escape his drab life yet express his nascent bisexuality. (Patsy Cline's signature tune supplies the film's title.)
Zac's sexuality and the influence of the Catholic Church are two of the themes running through C.R.A.Z.Y. The rough-and-tumble Beaulieus are homophobic, which immediately sets Zac apart from his kin. This storyline is clearer than that of the Church's, whose influence grips the family in the'60s but wanes in the '70s. Zac's eventual pilgrimage and spiritual reawakening are unconvincing. What does ring true is the drug abuse, which becomes Quebec's new Gospel. Zac and his arch enemy - older brother and bad boy Ray (Pierre-Luc Brillant) - become mired in weed and heroin, respectively.
Vallée's visual flourishes enchant but do not distract; C.R.A.Z.Y. is a pleasure to watch because it is so full of energy and truth. Apart from the film's last 30 minutes, C.R.A.Z.Y. skips along like an early Stones song, taking delirious turns along the way. Though the message is blurry at times, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a charming film about growing up a little differently and finding your place in a mad world. (TVA)