movie review: C.R.A.Z.Y.

Fred gave me the DVD of C.R.A.Z.Y. as a parting gift before I left Québec.

This award-winning film traces two decades (1960-1980) in the life of the Beaulieus, a suburban, middle-class, Québec family. The title of the film refers to the song of the same name by American country music singer, Patsy Cline, which functions as a leitmotif through the course of the film. It is also an acronym for the first names of the five brothers in the Beaulieu family: Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zachary and Yvan.

The plot focuses on Zac, the fourth brother who is born on Christmas Day, 1960, and his relationship with his father, Gervais, who works in construction. Early on, it becomes evident that he is "not like the other boys." His mother takes him to the eccentric tupperware saleswoman and mystic, Madame Chose, who tells him that he has a gift from God. The film takes us through Zac's life as he grows up, comes to terms with his "gift" and his being different, and follows the relation between Zac, Gervais and the rest of the family through the years from estrangement to reconciliation. In the background of all of this family drama is the social milieu of the Quiet Revolution, Québec society's own coming of age, where the values of the government, the Catholic Church, and society as a whole were put into question and reformed and reestablished.

Besides the eponymously titled Patsy Cline song, Charles Aznavour's "Emmène-moi au bout de la terre" also functions as a reoccuring leitmotif, as it is the family patriarch's song of choice to sing at family gatherings, even as times change and the years, and decades go by. Along the way, we also hear emblematic tracks by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and others. The soundtrack of the film functions as a means of evoking the time period depicted in the film as well as reflecting Québec's particular place as a middle ground between Anglo-American and French cultures. As a note of trivia, apparently, securing the legal rights to the soundtrack took up a large chunk of the budget for this film, whose high production values and high budget look and feel which suggest the Canadian film industry's own coming of age.

C.R.A.Z.Y. succedes in acheiving that which is common to all great films. It takes us into the lives of a particular group of characters (the Beaulieu family) in a specific time and place (Québec in the 60's and 70's), shows us a wide range of human emotions, and yet also manages to touch upon the universals of the human experience that we can all identify with: growing up and coming of age, the relationship between fathers and sons, coming to terms with being "different" and the establishment of one's own identity, and the reconciliation of one's religious background and one's own definition of faith.

This film has it all, so check it out!

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