C.R.A.Z.Y. (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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More unhappy families in C.R.A.Z.Y., this time among the Montreal middle-class of the 1970s. Born the fourth of five boys, Zac (Marc-André Grondin) grows up "different", dressing in his mother's clothes, wetting the bed and exhibiting a gift for healing burns. Initially close to his father (Michel Côté), the two become alienated once Zac acknowledges the suspicion that he might be gay.

The film, written by François Boulay, is plainly a very personal one, though it will draw rueful smiles of recognition among those whose teenage years were coloured by a preoccupation with David Bowie, stack heels and Catholicism. Through a fug of cigarette smoke, the director Jean-Marc Vallée charts Zac's unsteady progress towards fulfilment, hampered on the one side by his disappointed dad and on the other by an aggressive junkie brother (Pierre-Luc Brillant). Vallée has a superb instinct for familial occasions, and understands how the favourite party piece - Zac's dad singing along with Charles Aznavour - can suddenly snap into an acrimonious brawl on mention of the word "fag".

Tightly focused as it is, the film seems to last considerably longer than its advertised two hours, and at times we seem to be reliving the hero's turbulent adolescence minute by minute. Judicious clipping might have given it a better flow. No faulting the performances, however, especially Côté's as the careworn father whose longing for a "normal" family is undermined by his wayward offspring.

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