As an avid film watcher, I have a really bad habit of missing out on my local films. Canadian or more specifically Quebec movies just seem to to just evade me for whatever reason. I've probably seen more Japanese movies than I have Canadian movies and I could probably repeat that comparison with quite a few more countries. That's why I'm really pleased to have seen C.R.A.Z.Y.
This film is a work of Jean-Marc Vallée who has broken his way into Hollywood in a big way. Ever heard of Dallas Buyers Club? You've probably been living under a rock if you haven't. His first Hollywood production right after C.R.A.Z.Y. was The Young Victoria which I remember having liked quite a bit. He has a new movie coming out this year called Wild which I'm sure will be trying to garner some nominations during awards season.
Zachary Beaulieu or just Zac (Marc-André Grondin) was born on Christmas in 1960. He's the fourth son of the family but finds himself the effeminate one in comparison. His father Gervais (Michel Côté) tries as hard as he can to instill a sense of manliness into his son but becomes upset when his efforts appear to be for naught. The last thing he wants his son to be is a "tapette." That's gay for those unfamiliar with French lingo.
I wasn't born in Quebec in the 1960's, but C.R.A.Z.Y. certainly does a good job at taking me back to then. I think that Jean-Marc Vallée perfectly captures how it was at the time in terms of raising a family and also of potentially having a gay son.The premier of Quebec, Maurice Duplessis had just died in September of 1959 and represents a time in Quebec where the Church had the ultimate power in controlling the province. Everyone was religious, everyone went to mass and nobody wanted to have a homosexual in the family.
Religion is a strong theme in C.R.A.Z.Y. and is part of why Zac has such a hard time accepting himself.
He later becomes an atheist, but he never really truly seems to drop his belief in God just yet because he still prays to Him when he goes through tough times. His father Gervais is another major roadblock, and he is the absolute perfect example of a manly man living in Quebec during the 60's. He reminds me of an uncle of mine so much so that it's scary. There's also of course just society in general which isn't so kind to homosexuals.
C.R.A.Z.Y. isn't just a movie about being gay in 1960's/1970's Quebec though, it's also a wonderfully done coming-of-age movie. The music used was of such importance to Jean-Marc Vallée that he took a pay cut to ensure that he could successfully license all the music he wanted. It ended up costing $650,000 in total.
Zac has to live with three other brothers who all pretty much torment him because he's the youngest, but also because he's "mou" or soft. He prays to not wet the bed before going to sleep and he even has asthma, forcing him to use an inhaler which just reinforces his softness. All that plus Zac has to deal with the confusion over his sexual orientation. Zac has it rough and goes through quite a few extremely rough patches.
Jean-Marc Vallée has created a period movie set in Quebec, a coming-of-age movie and a drama about the struggles of being gay in an ultra conservative setting. C.R.A.Z.Y. explores the feelings of Zac but also his parents really well. Far from being a superficial examination, it's heartbreaking and it's heartwarming. I can vouch for the authenticity of C.R.A.Z.Y.'s representation of Quebec even though I didn't grow up during the 60's. There's lots of stuff in here that I can point to that were still a part of my growing up in Quebec during the 90's. There have been lots of changes since then, but what I hope has changed the most is how homosexuals are treated during their upbringing.