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By Christopher Curry | March 3, 2005

“Crazy Love” is a Belgian film based partially on “The Copulating Mermaid of Venice”, “California” and “Ham on Rye”, both stories fantastically penned by the inimitable Charles Bukowski. “Crazy Love” also marks the directorial debut of Dominique Deruddere (“Everybody’s
Famous” and “Wait Until Spring, Bandini”) and the feature film introduction of Josse de Pauw (“Hombres Complicados and S.”). While “Crazy Love” has been consistently affirmed by critics and viewers alike the film has proven much too controversial for mainstream acceptance and has remained virtually unknown even with Francis Ford Coppola and Pop singer Madonna fighting for its cause.

“Crazy Love” tells the story of Harry Voss (a sure-fired stand-in for Bukowski) who is repeatedly referred to as “Harry Frankenstein” for his socially debilitating skin condition. Voss’ over-sized and over-ripened acne causes children to stare, adults to look away and
classmates to snicker. Bukowski unfortunately suffered this same tribulation in his own life.

Harry Voss’ account is revealed over 3 key moments in his life. In the first part of the film he is infatuated with a Princess from a matinee film that he has seen and soon first-handedly discovers his budding sexuality. Moreover his adolescent ideals of love and
marriage are not only debunked by his older friend but also crushed by his mother.

From age 12 we are transported 6 years later to Voss’ high school graduation, an event he understandably declines to attend due to the unmerciful taunts that he receives from his classmates. A friend invites Voss to the graduation dance and he is only convinced to go after a good healthy round of drinks. Once at the gathering Voss spots the most popular girl in school and attempts asking her to dance. He doesn’t have the nerve and retreats to the lavatory in order to regain his composure. In an act of desperation Voss completely wraps his head with tissues leaving only a tiny slit for his languid yet passionate eyes to be seen. Resembling Claude Rains from The Invisible Man, Voss lends his hand to the girl in question and she accepts the offer to dance. Certainly the idea of Voss looking like The Invisible Man versus the notion that he would sometimes rather be an invisible man did not elude the makers of this film. To be sure this bizarre dream-like sequence leaves the viewer
wondering if it ever really happened at all.

Finally, in his 30’s, disillusioned from alcoholism and suffering miserably from a broken heart, Harry Voss ends his quest for love by copulating with a female cadaver. Harry, thinking that the corpse is
the Princess from his childhood fantasies, marries and then commits suicide with his new bride by walking forever into the sea.

Deruddere approaches this difficult subject matter with a stylistic finesse seldom seen in a first time director. In fact, in America it is virtually unheard of, but the film commission in Belgium differs greatly from that of Hollywood’s (just watch the “making of featurette” to get a clearer view of the differences). Deruddere masterfully orchestrates a fantastic piece of cinema that in the hands of a lesser director would have either been a pity-party or a freak show (or both) but instead it is a film that will inspire
emotions of understanding and humility.

This Mondo Macabro release has some great extra features including: A “making of” documentary, an interview with the film’s director and optional English subtitles.

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