Monday, June 11, 2012

Sleepless nights and bottomless bottles, LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL

D. Dominique Deruderre

This Belgian produced film started life as a short film called "A FOGGY DAY" based on Charles Bukowski's short story "THE COPULATING MERMAID OF VENICE, CA" which the filmmakers made with money from the Belgian film commission. They were so happy with the results (even though they pulled a fast one on the film commission who thought they were getting a much more mild story) that they made the short into a feature film. To do so they took the main character and drafted out two more very "Bukowski" styled stories based on imagery from other stories and even bits of his life. What they ended up with is a film that the very hard to deal with writer, considered the best adaption of his work. 

The film deals with one Harry Voss whom we meet at three distinct moments of his life. First at age twelve at the movies where he has fallen in love with a beautiful screen princess. His world view of love, romance and even sexuality is formed on this storybook notions. But the next 24 hours all of that will be torn down as he spends time with an older, hornier, neighbor boy who takes it upon himself to teach Harry to ropes of sexual misadventure. Firstly explaining to him what "fucking" is, then setting their sights on several girls and women throughout the town for the both of them to try to conquer. Naturally, it never really goes well and is all very confusing to young Harry, ending with him seeing a lot more of his new friend that he wants to see, and much more of human sexuality than he needed to know about. 

We meet him again seven years later on the day of his high school graduation and he has grown into a depressive young man. The song 60's hit song "Love Hurts" plays on the radio as the camera pans over to reveal his older face which is covered with hideous acne. Pus ridden, pimples so bad that he looks like a monster right out of a 50's sci-fi movie. He gets on a bus and adults try not to star eat him, but little children have no compunctions about leering right at his face. He doesn't go to his graduation out shame, but his best friend convinces him to go to the final dance to attempt to profess his love to the pretty girl in class he has written a poem for. Naturally that doesn't go well either. But his best friend being the sort that he is arranges for the class floozy to put out for the both of them in a car in the parking lot, but she has not seen his scarred face either. 

We meet both of these boys again another seven years later and they are worse for the wear. Harry Voss is now a raging alcoholic. His acne is gone, but clearly so is much of his sanity. His best friend is just back from several stints in prison and they are together again after many years. They start a fight in the local bar so they can steal a bottle of gin and hit the streets together. They see a bagged up corpse being hauled out of the hospital, and put a challenge to each other for some mischief, stealing the body and taking it home. But when Harry unzips the body bag and discovers it is the remains of a very beautiful woman, everything changes for him. Suddenly the last chance for any kind of love is lying in front of him...

CRAZY LOVE starts of kind of mirthful, even innocent and ends pitch black as we see how a lifetime of rejection, disappointment and hollowness has driven this man to complete nothingness.  Watching this man who believed in the power of love as child, to have it destroyed  as his life goes on until there is nothing left but the cold booze bottle and a colder beautiful corpse woman is truly devastating. The final scene, without spoiling what it is, is both redemptive, haunting and profoundly sad. 

This is one of the most bitter of all coming of age stories I may have ever seen. Yet it holds a lot of truth in how the lives of some people just never stop derailing. A bittersweet tragedy and horror story of love.

Review © Andrew Copp

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