Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Crave

Despite its horror-movie title, there are no vampires or cannibal zombies in Crave, which revolves around victims of real-life horrors and an ordinary guy’s misguided efforts to do what society can't (or to his increasingly disordered mind, won't) to protect them. Unfortunately, both his and the movie’s execution fall short.

Dec 5, 2013

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1390788-Crave_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Thirty-five-year-old Detroit crime-scene photographer Aiden (Josh Lawson) is all too intimately familiar with urban America's dark underbelly…the violence, the amorality, the dog-eat-dog code of the streets that empowers thugs and oppresses decent men and women. A sexually frustrated recovering alcoholic, Aiden imagines himself a white knight, shining a light on the rottenness others ignore, but deep inside he knows he's just another bottom-feeder who turns the misery of others into cash insufficient to buy the clean, respectable lifestyle to which he aspires. His fantasies of revenge gradually evolve from a quiet way of reducing the stress of his dissatisfaction, a la perpetual dreamer Walter Mitty, into more a sort of mental chancre eating away at his conscience and even his soul.

But it's not until he himself becomes a victim and, in a moment reminiscent of Kathryn Bigelow's 1989 Blue Steel, finds a hopped-up thug's gun discarded on the street that he finds the will to stop serving as a passive chronicler of brutality's aftermath and become someone with the stones to take action. He sets about culling the ranks of the creeps like a low-rent Travis Bickle, a man who won't take it anymore but is, as everyone but he himself realizes, no better than the scum he's determined to wash off the streets. Scum that includes everyone from pimps to sanctimonious jerks (Jim Hanna and Tonya Cornelisse) who monopolize AA meetings with their holier-than-thou accounts of failure followed by enlightened redemption. (Anyone who's ever attended a 12-step meeting will recognize the urge to let a sledgehammer do the talking, but any reasonable person also understands the necessity of letting them talk—that's how 12-step groups work.)

Crave’s strength is its performances, particularly that of Ron Perlman—for whom the term "ever-reliable" is an unfair understatement of surprisingly subtle ability to subsume his distinctive looks into a wide range of characters—as Aiden's friend Pete, a police detective who’s equally disturbed by what goes on in the neon slime but aware that vigilantism isn't a solution: It's just another problem in the mix. But kudos also to Emma Lung as a neighbor locked in a toxic relationship with a controlling boyfriend (Edward Furlong, who still has the sensitively boyish looks that make it seem possible that a pretty, apparently intelligent young woman would stay with an obvious bastard). And finally, Lawson himself, who makes Aiden an object of pity rather than instant scorn, a loser with a fundamentally decent heart minus the social and analytical skills to formulate a constructive plan to do something about the world's wrongs—he can only react, and react badly.

But they're all undermined by not just the clichéd story but director/co-writer Charles de Lauzirika’s misguided tone, which veers from straight-up impotent fury to a clunky humor that's just not funny in the story's overall context. It's certainly possible to make light of violence, but not if you want viewers to be invested in characters who perpetrate it or are its victims.


Film Review: Crave

Despite its horror-movie title, there are no vampires or cannibal zombies in Crave, which revolves around victims of real-life horrors and an ordinary guy’s misguided efforts to do what society can't (or to his increasingly disordered mind, won't) to protect them. Unfortunately, both his and the movie’s execution fall short.

Dec 5, 2013

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1390788-Crave_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Thirty-five-year-old Detroit crime-scene photographer Aiden (Josh Lawson) is all too intimately familiar with urban America's dark underbelly…the violence, the amorality, the dog-eat-dog code of the streets that empowers thugs and oppresses decent men and women. A sexually frustrated recovering alcoholic, Aiden imagines himself a white knight, shining a light on the rottenness others ignore, but deep inside he knows he's just another bottom-feeder who turns the misery of others into cash insufficient to buy the clean, respectable lifestyle to which he aspires. His fantasies of revenge gradually evolve from a quiet way of reducing the stress of his dissatisfaction, a la perpetual dreamer Walter Mitty, into more a sort of mental chancre eating away at his conscience and even his soul.

But it's not until he himself becomes a victim and, in a moment reminiscent of Kathryn Bigelow's 1989 Blue Steel, finds a hopped-up thug's gun discarded on the street that he finds the will to stop serving as a passive chronicler of brutality's aftermath and become someone with the stones to take action. He sets about culling the ranks of the creeps like a low-rent Travis Bickle, a man who won't take it anymore but is, as everyone but he himself realizes, no better than the scum he's determined to wash off the streets. Scum that includes everyone from pimps to sanctimonious jerks (Jim Hanna and Tonya Cornelisse) who monopolize AA meetings with their holier-than-thou accounts of failure followed by enlightened redemption. (Anyone who's ever attended a 12-step meeting will recognize the urge to let a sledgehammer do the talking, but any reasonable person also understands the necessity of letting them talk—that's how 12-step groups work.)

Crave’s strength is its performances, particularly that of Ron Perlman—for whom the term "ever-reliable" is an unfair understatement of surprisingly subtle ability to subsume his distinctive looks into a wide range of characters—as Aiden's friend Pete, a police detective who’s equally disturbed by what goes on in the neon slime but aware that vigilantism isn't a solution: It's just another problem in the mix. But kudos also to Emma Lung as a neighbor locked in a toxic relationship with a controlling boyfriend (Edward Furlong, who still has the sensitively boyish looks that make it seem possible that a pretty, apparently intelligent young woman would stay with an obvious bastard). And finally, Lawson himself, who makes Aiden an object of pity rather than instant scorn, a loser with a fundamentally decent heart minus the social and analytical skills to formulate a constructive plan to do something about the world's wrongs—he can only react, and react badly.

But they're all undermined by not just the clichéd story but director/co-writer Charles de Lauzirika’s misguided tone, which veers from straight-up impotent fury to a clunky humor that's just not funny in the story's overall context. It's certainly possible to make light of violence, but not if you want viewers to be invested in characters who perpetrate it or are its victims.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Devils Violinist
Film Review: The Devil's Violinist

The latest classical-music legend to have his life trashed–again—by a cheaply sensationalistic movie, this famed fiddler deserved way better. More »

Backstreet Boys
Film Review: Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of

The ’90s boy band dusts itself off for a self-congratulatory, and not especially revelatory, career retrospective on the occasion of their 20th anniversary tour. More »

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Documentary

The long shadow and in-your-face reality of mortality shadows nearly all the entries in this year’s powerful, draining Oscar-nominated documentary short films program. More »

Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live- Action

This year’s program of Oscar-nominated live-action short films is longer on character and short on cute. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Project Almanac
Film Review: Project Almanac

Saying this underbaked Chronicle knockoff is meant for teenagers is an insult to the intelligence of teenagers everywhere. More »

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here