The Movie Binge

Crazy Love


The Movie Binge sent Matthew Perpetua and Dan Beirne, two grizzled veterans of the music blogging scene, out to see a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with music or the internet. Here's what they have to say for themselves.

Dan says:

I first need to outline the decisions made by the characters (if you can call them that in a documentary) and their reasons as they're presented in the film before I can examine the movie properly:

1. Linda and Burt get together because he's rich and she's beautiful.

2. Linda breaks it off because Burt is too creepy/ugly, and she'd rather be with a hotter guy.

3. Burt goes insane because his wife is boring and his kid is retarded (his words) and Linda represents what his life could have been and isn't at the time.

4. Burt hires some guys to throw lye in Linda's face when he hears of her engagement to another guy.

5. He goes even crazier in prison because he can't be rich anymore, and has lost everything instead of one thing, and decides he'd rather obsess about Linda instead of anything else in his life.

6. Burt gets out of prison to find Linda, who can't get anyone because her face is so messed up, is interested because now he's convenient and could possibly be the only one left who could love her.

7. They get back together.

8. He cheats on her again.

Crazy Love is full of morally vacuous (or morally unexamined) people hurting each other, justifying themselves to themselves, and forgiving each other. So it either speaks volumes to the talent of the filmmaker (or equally to my own shallowness) that I'm sooo interested in it. The sheer baseness of their choices as they're presented in the film is so gratingly familiar, it's like a John Updike novel. Maybe all my choices could be summed up this way, maybe we do all hurt each other in the same way, maybe love doesn't mean anything at all unless you're completely fucking someone else's life up, or they're completely fucking up yours. If we're not changed, not scarred, what's the difference, right?

Matthew says:

Let's say you're a single, relatively unattractive guy, and you've got your heart set on some girl who is way out of your league. You can either dismiss your chances with her, or you can find a way to highlight your best qualities just enough to get her attention. Of course, that's not always enough -- this woman is a catch, and so you've got a lot of competition from other suitors, most of whom are far more desirable than yourself. You've got to do something bold, something that will keep her in your life. In Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, an unemployed stoner impregnates the gorgeous Katherine Heigl on a one night stand, which leads her to inexplicably decide to pursue a real relationship with him when she decides not to terminate the pregnancy. Burton Pugach, the star of the documentary Crazy Love, followed a more unorthodox plan for sealing the deal with Linda Riss, the girl of his dreams: He hired some goons to blind and disfigure her by hurling lye at her face. He eventually went to jail and lost his fortune, but he ended up marrying Riss anyway, in large part because he was the only man who was still interested in taking care of her. It's a totally insane story, but somehow it makes so much more emotional sense than Apatow's slacker fantasy. Pugach and Riss may be total weirdos, but their decisions have some sort of twisted internal consistency, whereas Rogen and Heigl's characters in Knocked Up have motivations that are only sensible in terms of advancing that movie's plot and warming the hearts of the audience. It's a disconcerting thing when Pugach's brutal methods seem like a more foolproof plan for landing a lady than the rather mundane "accidental pregnancy" scenario.

Pugach and Riss' story is so far-fetched and elaborate that if Crazy Love were a work of fiction, most audiences would find it rather unrealistic, and would very likely accuse its author of being a misogynist. In contrast with the demented yet extremely straightforward Pugach, Linda Riss is something of an enigma. In her youth, she's a chaste party girl who is impressed by Pugach's wealth and connections but unwilling to commit to anyone. Following the incident with the lye, she becomes somewhat reclusive, but by the time she is reunited with Pugach, she's become rather comfortable with her tabloid notoriety, and seems to have adopted elements of his outlandish persona. At the end of the film, it becomes clears that Pugach has successfully reinvented Riss, to the point that she's disturbingly eager to dismiss his inability to avoid repeating his toxic cycle of philandering and violence well into the third decade of their creepy, co-dependent marriage.


It's like Joker and Harley Quinn.

To Dan:
I generally agree with you, but just a note: Linda doesn't break up with Burt because he "is too creepy/ugly, and she'd rather be with a hotter guy." She breaks up with him because he is married, and lied to her about getting a divorce, to the extent of forging divorce papers. Although, I would also like to point out that someone being "creepy/ugly" is not exactly an invalid reason to break up with them.

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