The late filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, who died unexpectedly at 58 in December 2021, never saw his 2005 movie “C.R.A.Z.Y.” (Samuel Goldwyn Pictures) receive a general theatrical release in the States.
This despite being a hit at numerous regional LGBT film festivals, receiving multiple awards in Canada, having a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and getting released on DVD. But that has changed just in time for Pride month, giving more people a chance to go crazy for “C.R.A.Z.Y.”
First, about the title. “C.R.A.Z.Y.” are the initials of the five brothers in the French-Canadian Catholic Beaulieu family — Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zac, and the youngest Yvan. Also, Patsy Cline’s rendition of the song “Crazy,” is a favorite of the Beaulieu brothers’ father Gervais (Michel Côté).
Now that we got that out of the way, “C.R.A.Z.Y.” opens in 1960 with the birth of the fourth brother Zac on Christmas Eve. As a young boy, Zac (Émile Vallée) is clearly different than his three older brothers, not just because he’s sensitive, but because he has a special mark. A strip of discolored hair at the back of his scalp. His devout mother Laurianne (Danielle Proulx) is convinced that it is a sign from God.
His macho father Gervais is less certain of that and throughout Zac’s childhood remains suspicious of his son’s less-than-masculine behavior. During his teenage years, Zac (Marc-André Grondin) is virtually ignored by “egghead” Christian (Maxime Tremblay), mildly teased by “sport nut” Antoine (Alex Gravel), and regularly brutalized by his “sworn enemy” Raymond (Pierre-Luc Brillant). It is Zac’s relationship with Raymond, along with the complex rapport he has with his parents, that is at the core of the movie. That, and the fact that he is struggling with his sexuality.
Set, as it is, during the especially turbulent 1960s and 1970s, and continuing into the 1980s, “C.R.A.Z.Y.” does an exceptional job of capturing the crazy zeitgeist of those periods. Sex (gay and straight) and drugs, and of course, rock and roll, add fuel to the fire of Beaulieu family’s burning flames.
The soundtrack, which features David Bowie and Pink Floyd, along with Cline and Charles Aznavour, among others, is suitably stirring. Vallée, who went on to make hit movies including “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wild,” as well as HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” deserved the acclaim he received for “C.R.A.Z.Y.,” and his perceptiveness and sensitivity to the subject matter, particularly as a straight man, truly comes through in the most authentic way.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.