A film that I just narrowly missed at Fantasia was Charles de Lauzirika's character piece Crave, so I was glad to see it make it to the Big Smoke as part of Toronto After Dark.
Crime photographer Aiden (Josh Lawson) leads a very solitary existence and spends his time fantasizing to the point of hallucination. When he strikes up a relationship with neighbour Virginia (Emma Lung), his daydreams begins to interfere with him living the life he has been so desperately searching for.
I have mixed feeling about this film. On a technical level, Crave is a superb little indie with a look that fully represents Aiden's inner turmoil. However, the problems of the piece largely reside with said main character. I'd like to first point out that it has nothing to do with Lawson's performance as he is top-notch and conveys Aiden's neurotic awkwardness effortlessly. It has more to do with the fact that, as the movie progresses, Aiden becomes more and more unlikable to the point that it is hard to even root for him anymore. I don't think that was the intention, but that's how it came across to me. Although, it is possible I was just reacting to the off-putting realization that I related to a good chunk of what happens in this movie.
|Josh Lawson (left) and Ron Perlman in Crave.|
Fortunately, Aiden's AA sponsor Pete, played by genre vet Ron Perlman, shows up at several points to break things up a bit. It was really great to see him portray someone a little less animated and flamboyant, but he still, of course, brings the same Perlman grit to the role. The little anecdotes Pete imparts to Aiden over the course of the film are some of the best parts of the movie.
One thing I really appreciated was, how much Detroit was a part of this story. Rather than just a nameless metropolis, director de Lauzirika makes sure he plants somewhere recognizable and it heightens the realism of the piece, much like American indie icons Larry Cohen & Bill Lustig did with New York in, among others, God Told Me To & Maniac, respectively.
Conveying inner monologues for an entire movie is a tough job, but for the most part de Lauzirika succeeds, even if the abundant what-if scenarios do wear a little thin by the end. As he said during the Q&A, de Lauzirika was aware that he might only get one shot at making a film, so he wanted to put in as much as possible. This is likely why a lot of Crave feels that it comes from a very personal place. It is uncomfortable to watch at times, seeing someone unconsciously sabotage their own happiness, but it at least seems to come from a sincere place.
|Director Charles de Lauzirika.|
Crave is a solid effort, but one that didn't really leap off the screen at me. It's a pretty morose little fable about the minutiae of modern life and getting so caught up in the unimportant that you neglect the stuff that is really relevant. It's a valid lesson, but I just wish that the message bearer hadn't been so detestable by the film's end.