Sunday, 24 February 2008

GFF Review: Crazy Love-by Carmody Wilson

Director: Dan Klores
Running Time: 92 minutes

Got an ex-boyfriend who just won’t leave you alone? What a yold. Engaged to someone new? That’s a mitzvah. Your old boyfriend hears about it and has acid thrown in your face? Oy vey. That’s the gist of the story behind director Dan Klores’ nutso documentary, Crazy Love. Only, dear reader, she married him. Not the original fiancée, but the lovelorn psycho who blinded her with his jealousy. And that‘s only half the kookiness.

Lovely Linda Riss was a Bronx beauty with a host of suitors. Burt Pugash was a homely lawyer with a career as an ambulance chaser. They meet. Roses are given. A trip in an airplane, nights out in private clubs, jewelery, all are on offer. Linda demurs and dates his guy. Burt is in love. There’s one small snag: Burt’s married. Linda flees, gets on with her life, finds new love. Burt stalks, threatens, and harasses her, finally hiring some local toughs to throw acid in her face. Linda is blinded and scarred for life. Burt goes to jail. He woos her, relentlessly writing letters. Linda travels to Europe, wears glam sunglasses and beautiful caftans. Burt gets out. They get married. Yep, that’s Crazy Love.

Done as a series of interviews with the people who know them best, the Riss-Pugash story emerges as more than bizarre, at least, in part, because of the real-life characters who share their hands in the romance. There are plenty of enormous wattles, dazzling displays of veneers so huge they almost overpower the wattles (almost) and Brooklyn accents so thick you’d think you were in a lineup in a deli somewhere. Friends of Linda’s speak out against Burt from the get-go, only to demur that he’s okay because he treats her okay now. The police officer assigned to protect Linda whilst she was in the hospital recovering from Burt’s acid attack was the one who suggested that Linda reconcile with Burt, and a lawyer friend of Pugash’s tells that he told Burt to “kill off those niggers” who had performed the dirty deed only to “discover, to my embarrassment, there was a tape recording the whole conversation!!!” Embarrassing indeed.

Crazy Love is an exercise in viewing credulity. You can never quite believe what you’re seeing and hearing, and the constant assault of “Oh my God” moments never stop, least of all when it’s revealed, late in the film, that Burt was charged with threatening and stalking another woman. But all is quickly “righted”, and Burt and Linda are left to ride off into the sunset, a sunset he has arranged with laundered money that she’ll never see because her husband threw acid in her face and blinded her.

No comments: