Three ‘Bukowskian’ torrid nights in the life of a man in search of love. Harry Voss, 12, is young and naive. Love, for him, is romantic love between princes and princesses demurely kissing each other on the mouth. His father is a hero who kidnapped his mother and married her on a lonely mountain peak…
Later on, he’ll do the same. But Harry has a lot to learn. He also learns that there are handsome men and ugly ones, that love can be unfair. That one can find comfort in drinking… but above all he learns that man is capable of anything – absolutely anything! – to get his fair share of love.
Crazy Love is a 1987 film directed by Belgian director Dominique Deruddere. The film is based on various writings by author and poet Charles Bukowski, in particular The Copulating Mermaid of Venice, California, which contains necrophilia. It was the first Flemish-Belgian film to receive a theatrical release in North America.
When it was first released, first time director Dominique Deruddere’s film divided critics and audiences. Some reviewers noted the quality of the photography and set design and acting. Others focused on the unacceptable nature of the film’s subject.
On its US release, the film was championed by Madonna, Sean Penn and Francis Ford Coppola. Ultimately it proved too controversial for mass acceptance, and never received wide recognition. It is now considered by some to be one of the classic films of world cinema from the 1980s.
About the Story
The film follows Harry Voss during three important days of his life. The first is as a youth, the second on the day of his high school graduation and the third as a lonely, middle-aged man.
The phases of his life show the destruction of hope and innocence and his descent into cynicism, alcoholism and hopelessness. Idealizing romantic love with a beautiful girl in his childhood, he is bitterly disappointed when the real world does not match the idealized images of love in his own imaginings.
He then discovers as a teenager his peers consider him an outcast due to his chronic and physically disfiguring cystic acne, which covers his face, chest, shoulders and back in weeping pus-filled sores and repulses all who see him. He turns to alcohol to kill the pain and disappointment, losing all hope of finding true love, only to end up destitute, as an alcoholic in later adulthood.
Only through a freak chance encounter late in his life is he transported back to his innocent memories of childhood and the idealized love of a beautiful girl that he craved in his youth. Finally fulfilled, he dies by wading out into the open ocean after finding his only “true” love – a “crazy love”. The irony of the “hollowness” of this lost, idealized, love, and the tragic significance Harry places on this single event, sums up his lost life and finally makes him the hero of his own story.
Each of the three phases filmed involves a sexual encounter with a “passive” female. In the first phase, the child is pushed into a sexual encounter with a friend’s attractive mother whilst she is sleeping, drunk, in her bed at home. In the second, a girl lies passively in the back seat of a car, uninterested, whilst he attempts to have sex with her.
She does it only as a favor to her boyfriend who is friends with Harry, but cannot carry through in the end and turns away in disgust at his appalling cystic acne. In the third, as an older alcoholic, he and his drunk friend stumble upon a fresh corpse and “steal” it as a joke, only for Harry to find that the dead – but still warm – girl resembles the girl of his childhood dreams.
Crazy Love (1988)
Directed by: Dominique Deruddere
Starring: Josse De Pauw, Geert Hunaerts, Michael Pas, Gene Bervoets, Amid Chakir, Florence Béliard, Karen van Parijs, Carmela Locantore
Screenplay by: Charles Bukowski, Dominique Deruddere
Production Design by: Hubert Pouille, Erik Vanbelleghem
Cinematography by: Willy Stassen
Film Editing by: Ludo Troch
Costume Design by: Loret Meus
Music by: Raymond van het Groenewoud
Distributed by: Cineplex-Odeon Films
Release Date: April 22, 1988