CRAZY LOVE is the loose film adaption of the short story, “The Copulating Mermaid from Venice, California” written by Charles Bukowski. For those of you who are familiar with the work of Bukowski, you already know that he was always finding beauty, poignancy actually, in people living far from the conventions from polite society and usually engaged in some really disgusting if not fringe behaviors. Unlike most films I review, CRAZY LOVE might have been heard of years earlier had its luck been better. When it first appeared in the States it was praised by none other than GODFATHER creator, Francis Ford Coppola, but it seems American audiences who always love the idyllic, were not ready for its strange Bukowskiesque mind bending formula where tragedy and joy are often indistinguishable in the final act. Let us now look at this crazy love and see if we feel any fever or fondness for this particular title.
This is life the story of Harry Voss, told through three separate ages and eras in his life (ages 12, 19 and 33). We first experience him in the sixties as a shy, sexually precocious teenage boy, then as a high school graduate with unfortunate severe acne issues and finally as an adult who consoles himself with booze and petty mayhem. If it sounds negative and perhaps pointless it really doesn’t play out this way, despite the fact that Harry seems to be put on this earth only to suffer, he does have one feature about him which makes him lovable to all audiences and that is although he endures a sad, unfortunate life where he is constantly hit with stupid and cruel hardship he always seems to believe in a fantastic, fairy tale romance that will one day come his way and change his life forever. Suffice to say, when Harry ultimately meets his “dream girl” it is not a normal, beautiful or particularly endearing choice of mate that most of us (thankfully) will ever aspire to, but most of us can agree that at least for our exquisitely broken main character, it is strangely apt, if not apropos form of partner for him. Thankfully, for once in a B film, this life defining moment is not steeped in rape or violence, but in fact may be something far worse for most audiences to behold which explains why this film never did big numbers in the states even though it is a technical masterpiece.
In fact personally, I can’t believe how well made his little film actually is. While the story starts in 1955, much as in the case of GOODFELLAS, the popular music, attention to details of era and proper casting of different aged “Harrys” throughout the years really allows you to lose yourself within his growth as a young man if not his decay as a human being and you can’t help but think, hope actually that maybe, just maybe in the next phase of his life, he will find his way to the perfect love that he dreamed of ever since he was a shy, deeply misunderstood, adolescent boy.
I am not going to say this film is uplifting, that it delivered the payout I wanted it to or that most people will “get it”. Two themes explored (however symbolically) is that romantic love, as it appears on books, movies or in mass media is largely dead and perhaps always has been. Another underlying message of the film is that love itself, even our own most deepest, cherished innermost personal notions of it are absolutely based on anything but logic; rational thought and try as we might, the love we feel is impossible to justify to others and can only be experienced by the one who loves. Perhaps all true love is crazy in this way?
Mondo Macabro has done it once again, releasing a little known film from another country (Belgium) that really called for a modern DVD treatment with all the improvement in picture quality you would expect over the VHS version. Exquisitely crafted, infused with meaning and billed as a “darkly, disturbing fairy tale for adults” CRAZY LOVE is part teenage coming of age comedy, part buddy picture and part romantic potboiler only with the an underlying theme of dark, dry sinister wit that could only come from a foreign film. All the reasons why this film was prevented from finding mainstream acceptance during its first release makes it all the more reason why cult film lovers who always are in the mood for something both beautiful and awful should show this CRAZY LOVE some zany fondness all their own. My one complaint about this film is I really felt that Harry deserved better than he got at the conclusion of this film, considering all he had suffered, but perhaps I simply could not personally grasp the heights (or depths) of his all-encompassing notions of schoolboy romanticism which were the only definition of happiness he had aspired to for his entire life.
Extras Include a Making of featurette, a video interview with the film’s director Dominique Deruddere and a trailer vault for more Mondo Macabro weirdness pressed to DVD.
Get your copy from Mondo!