By Admin | January 22, 2007

A song lyric once proclaimed that “love is strange.” Another fashionable saying suggested “love is blind.” After seeing “Crazy Love,” I’d like to add a new saying / lyric: Love is strange and sometimes leads to blinding. Such is a very basic premise of the documentary “Crazy Love.”

During the 1950’s, a young, attractive Linda Riss starts going out with a sometimes Hollywood player, Burt Pugach. All is wine and roses at first, with private plane rides, nights at exclusive New York clubs and other love-at-first-sweeping-off-your-feet-ity. Then Linda finds out Burt is married, and instead of divorcing his wife, as he claims he will, Burt instead strings Linda along… for as long as he can. Eventually they break up, and Linda starts seeing other people, much to the obsessional dismay of Burt. Out of moment of madness (well, multiple moments of madness), the lovesick (emphasis on sick) hires some men to scare Linda to the point where she’ll feel she needs Burt’s protection and love. The end result, however, is Linda being pelted by the men with the acidic lye, which blinds her and ultimately leads to jail for Pugach… who claims all throughout trial how much he loves her. As the documentary rolls on, the twists and turns continue, particularly when the two get back together. Why would Linda take Burt back? How could she forgive him for blinding her? Does Burt really love her, or is he simply nuts? What does love mean in this instance, in any instance?

I’ll admit, I’ve never understood how a woman can stay with a man who routinely beats her, cheats on her, etc despite the many talk shows that tackle the subject. And with “Crazy Love,” I’m still as confused, though I think there may be more of a business partnership aspect to their love, in the sense that the original trial got massive publicity and, as their lives progressed, they continually placed themselves in the limelight by being together (as opposed to being alone and forgotten, something neither of their unhealthy egos could stand). I also think there is an element of their being brought up in a different age, when you were defined by whether you did or didn’t marry in many cases, and perhaps they both realized that it’s better together than never.

Dan Klores’ documentary allows the story to play out slowly, never tipping its hand too much, so those who don’t know about Linda and Burt (who have gotten a large enough amount of tabloid fame at this point to make that challenging) are brought along twist by shocking twist. This pace is also somewhat stalling, as certain points seem to be repeating, particularly at the beginning of the film where example after example of Burt’s “love” is expressed, when, really, the audience gets it, and you want the story to move on. This is a small point, however, as the main thrust is the “love story” between this obviously deranged man and his victim, and the questions this causes.

All told, “Crazy Love” is a rarity in documentaries; it’s fun. Nowadays, documentaries are always so serious and depressing, and sitting through them often leaves me convinced the world is in either a state of perpetual environmental decay (which it is) or perpetual war (…and, it is). Watching “Crazy Love” had me questioning my own definition of love, enjoying the cuteness of the relationship (when it existed) and overall just having a fun time (despite the tragic moments contained therein).

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