Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zachary and Yvan are brothers growing up in a middle-class home in Quebec in the 1960s. Zachary, the fourth son, often feels like the odd one out because he doesn’t like sports, isn’t interested in going to camp, and isn’t his father’s idea of masculine. His mother is the most supportive of his individuality, however even she has alternate plans for him: she believes he has the gift of healing from God.
The film follows Zac (Marc-André Grondin) from birth into his 20s as he navigates the expectations of his parents, his aggressive brothers and, perhaps hardest of all, himself. The family dynamic in C.R.A.Z.Y. is fraught but compelling. Zac’s brothers are unrelentingly mean to their more sensitive brother, and often throw homophobic slurs at him as it becomes increasingly apparent that he is gay.
A large part of C.R.A.Z.Y.’s success must be credited to Grondin who plays older Zac with empathy and relatability. Often, because he feels different and ostracized, Zac daydreams himself into better situations and the film breaks into magical interludes: at church he envisions himself floating above everyone as they sing The Rolling Stones instead of hymns, and at home he stares at himself in the mirror while channeling David Bowie.
The music is everything in C.R.A.Z.Y. —and it reportedly kept the film from screening in the US because of a licensing issue with a Pink Floyd tune — but songs like Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Bowie’s “Space Oddity” are key to establishing the characters and their relationships.