'Crazy Eyes': a cautionary tale that doesn't bode well
"Crazy Eyes" characters drink themselves to near oblivion before plopping into bed for joyless couplings that may or may not be consummated. And not much more than that happens.
The New York Times
'Crazy Eyes,' with Lukas Haas, Madeline Zima, Jake Busey, Tania Raymonde, Blake Garrett Rosenthal and Ray Wise.
Directed by Adam Sherman. 95 minutes. Unrated. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
Adam Sherman's "Crazy Eyes" is "Californication" marinated in booze and minus the rancid pseudo-hip banter of that unfortunate Showtime series. In almost every scene the film's characters drink themselves to near oblivion before plopping into bed for joyless couplings that may or may not be consummated. There are also two ugly bar brawls.
A world-weary tone is established in an introductory voice-over by Zach (Lukas Haas), a rich, divorced layabout who has been there and done that too many times to count.
"Every night seems the same in Los Angeles," he drones portentously. "If you are one in a million in this city, there are several more just like you. We're all just duplicates of copies of Xeroxes, each of us living proof that there's no one and nothing here." Bret Easton Ellis, are you listening?
The story is constructed around a sardonic conceit. Every time Zach and Rebecca (Madeline Zima), aka Crazy Eyes, one of the only women in his orbit who refuse to have sex with him, set out to visit an exhibition of Hieronymus Bosch paintings, they end up sidetracked at a bar.
It is not until they visit New York, where the exhibition has landed, that they finally see the show and have something to talk about other than their own tedious games of advance and retreat.
Sherman's previous film, "Happiness Runs" (2010), is a nightmarish, semi-autobiographical story of neglected teenagers running wild on a hippie commune given over to sex, drugs and demonic mind games. If it feels uncomfortably real, it's because its vision of decadence (if you'll pardon the word) is almost unwatchably creepy. "Crazy Eyes" awakens the same queasiness. Yes, it feels true. But why bother?
Zach, whom Haas imbues with a blank, sullen self-importance, stumbles through the movie wearing the glazed expression of a hopeless drunk. No wonder he is confused by Crazy Eyes. On their first date she tells Zach, "I don't know whether to kiss you or slap you," then does both.
He and Rebecca develop a habit of spending nights together in the same bed after carousing, and Zach inevitably presses himself on her, only to be rejected. Sometimes, while Rebecca is half asleep, he engages in phone sex with one of several women he keeps on a string. His best friend is a bartender named Dan (Jake Busey), a sycophantic enabler who tags along on jogs when they aren't too hung over.
There is an underdeveloped subplot in which Zach bickers with his promiscuous ex-wife (Moran Atias) and awkwardly tries to bond with their 5-year-old son. Reality briefly punctures Zach's haze when his father (Ray Wise) has a stroke, and Zach comes to the foggy realization that he should pull himself together. But that glimmer of recognition offers as much hope as "Crazy Eyes" allows.