SXSW Review: CRAZY EYES

By Mark Saldana

Writer/director Adam Sherman tells a story of alcoholism, depression, and self destruction with this very personal film. Zach (Lukas Haas), a wealthy divorced alcoholic pretty much lives his life aimlessly. He spends most of his time drinking at his friend Dan’s (Jake Busey) bar where he often takes the object of his affection Rebecca (Madeline Zima) or Crazy Eyes as his calls her. His life is completely redundant. He wakes up hung over, sometimes exercises with Dan, if it is his day; he spends time with his son. He calls up Crazy Eyes, promises her to take her to an art exhibit, and they end up drinking until incoherent at “the bar”. It truly is a sad life which, if continued, will only have one possible end.

As I watched the film, I loved the performances of the actors who do some amazing work here. However, because the lives of these characters follow pretty much the same patterns day to day with few new developments, I can’t help but say I grew bored and increasingly irritated. I understand that because of their depression and substance abuse, these characters are going nowhere. Still, I can’t help, but feel irritated with the cyclical direction of the story.

The following day, I sat in on a brief roundtable interview with director Sherman who informed us that the movie is autobiographical. It obviously was a struggle to get clean, sober, and where he is today to tell this cautionary story. As far as the redundancy of the story, Sherman mentioned that, “Alcoholics have a tendency to, like, sit there and drink and not end up doing what they are trying to do. Me and this girl I was dating kept trying to go to this art exhibit and not make it there. I think it was a month, basically every day.” I asked Sherman how painful it was to re-examine his past in the process of making this movie. “I’ve done it before. My last film, HAPPINESS RUNS is autobiographical also. It is actually darker. It is not as well done, as I was less experienced. So it may not have as powerful or an emotional impact on the audience because I was a less experienced filmmaker, but I was dealing with more dramatic material that was also autobiographical. My way of dealing with life is to accept things as stories. If something dark or strange is happening, I can look at it objectively as a story now.”

After this insightful talk with Sherman, my opinion has changed a tad regarding the film. I can truly see his intention regarding the aimlessness of the story throughout most of the film. I do believe that Sherman has a genuine talent for recreating these dark and sometimes funny true stories for the big screen, as both a writer and director.

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