Does the collective cinema going public have the stomach for another gay film? After the success of Brokeback Mountain it seems that any film dealing with the subject of homosexuality risks comparison. This is unfair, especially when a film like C.R.A.Z.Y. comes along. Brokeback Mountain was not especially subtle on the gay theme. One moment longing glances were being exchanged, and the next Heath Ledger is spitting in his hand, getting ready ride the rodeo. So to speak. Throughout the film the fact these cowboys were gay was shouted out in lip locked, vigorously passionate scenes.
C.R.A.Z.Y. is a far more delicate affair. The question of lead character Zac's homosexuality is softly debated from the outset, but is not formerly resolved. Instead the film sees a far more realistic struggle for Zac, as he wrestles with his `condition', growing up in a family were to be gay is unacceptable, in a society only just emerging from severe catholic-led conservatism. The coming of age story is an old, sometimes haggard genre. C.R.A.Z.Y. manages to tell the story in a new way, taking a serious and thoughtful look at how a typical family copes with a son who is obviously different.
The setting is in itself a novelty. The Quebec of the 1970s is unknown territory. Lets face it - Quebec of any time is pretty obscure. But it is a fascinating insight to a society that is changing far more quickly than many of its residents cares to imagine. Catholicism is losing its grip. The children are infused and enthused with the music of these changing times. Ziggy Stardust rules. It is drugs, sex and rock `n' roll, with not even a disparaging reference for Johnny Hallyday.
Zac is the focus of the film, but the performances of his mother and father are just magnificent. His mother is so patiently loving, willing to allow each of her children to be different, and so emotional as the losses and heartaches of family life are revealed. His father is not as sensitive, and can not handle the obvious differences in his son. With five sons to his name he has his own masculinity issues, and refuses to accept the possibility that one of his own children is a fairy.
Perhaps the biggest success of the film is to deal with the subject of homosexuality without making it the absolute central tenet. It is a much more mature, confident handling of a subject as a facet of family life. The whole world does not fall apart upon the revelations. It is a difficult time, with acrimonious words and bitter deeds, but reconciliation is possible. It is a window into the real world of most gay people - accepted just slightly misunderstood.