I just finished watching this movie, and posted a review over at AllConsuming. I don’t do that for everything I finish, but this movie deserved a review.

I remember when I was a kid, my father said of Canadian films, “Well, you know, they film something like a bug, and the bug sits still, and you’re waiting for something to happen. Then the bug moves, but nothing happens. Ten minutes, you watch that bug, and then you give up. That’s Canadian film.”

In some ways, he may have been right. Canada certainly can’t compete in the area of action, thriller, things like that. When I lived in Montreal, tons of Hollywood movies were shot there, at least the outdoor scenes, but very few Canadian movies did much with the infrastructure that existed. That has, however, changed in the last few years, say, since the late 90s.

This is a movie about a French-Canadian family struggling with the difficulties of the kids growing up, the world changing, with drugs and sexuality and all that other stuff that complicates human life as kids pass into adulthood. I’m not a francophone, but spent a lot of time visiting family in Quebec, and the characters and family seemed very authentic to me.

It’s sad, it’s funny — the dad makes a killer comment on his misgivings about the Church, his distrust of an all-male clergy praying to a long-haired man who hung out with guys in robes — it’s painful, it’s touching, and it’s quite well-made.

Comparisons to the British coming-out/coming-of-age movie Beautiful Thing are inevitable, so I’m going to point out the main difference — this film was much more about the difficulties of coming out in a specifically French-Canadian family, about the complexities of dealing siblings in that setting, about identity more than romance. The protagonist, Zac, never actually has a male lover onscreen, it’s mostly about his identity and his experience in coming to terms with his sexuality that is the focus. So it’s not a sweet, funny romance that happens to have two male leads, like in Beautiful Thing. It’s very much about one young man struggling to make clear — to himself, and to his family — his identity, in the face of expectations, resistance, deep heartfelt love, pressures, fears, uncertainties, and all of that.

Anyway, it’s one of those Canadian films — like “The Hanging Garden” and “Kissed” and “Dance Me Outside” — that certainly defy my father’s definition (and experience) of Canadian film.

6 thoughts on “C.R.A.Z.Y.

  1. I thought this was a great movie too. It really captured the French Canadian feel. It was the Canadian entry for “Best Foreign” that year at the Oscars.

  2. Cool, I’m glad it got some recognition and all that. I went surfing around after I watched it, looking for other good Canadian films I haven’t seen in a while. I’d kill for a copy of Dance Me Outside to show to my classes. I think I’ll have to try pick one up while I’m in Canada.

  3. Another good one is “Love that boy”. It was a film made in Halifax.

    I also liked “New Waterford Girl”. I could relate a lot to the main character.

    “These girls” was also a funny one, and I cried my eyes out at Sarah Polley’s directorial debut “Away from her” when I saw it at the film festival this year.

    I also liked “Mount Pleasant” but that was really based on a neighbourhood near where I live, so I’m not sure that it would translate well to a person who is not familiar with Vancouver. (Maybe)

    And if you get a chance, check out “Eve and the Firehorse”- it’s a good story about a Chinese Canadian family. Very moving. It was a favourite at Sundance and features some amazing child acting.

    “Seducing Doctor Lewis” is about a small French Canadian town that tries to get a doctor to stay in their town. It’s very funny.

    I think the Canadian film industry is just starting to get interesting. We’re so young; there’s so much to do and so many different types of stories that haven’t been told yet.

  4. I loved that movie. All of the actors were good, which is only possible when the big studios (by QC standards anyway) aren’t involved and insist some popular singer or comic is added to the cast.

    The best film I saw that year. I’m happy you liked it too.

  5. Heh, I like your point about the insistence of adding a big star. It echoes well with this novella idea I have about a TV-producer in that era when TV is collapsing under the weight of internet/VR.

    I imagined you would have liked it, actually, when I saw it…

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