- Directed By: Charles de Lauzirika
- Starring: Josh Lawson, Ron Perlman, Emma Lung, Edward Furlong
There are certain films that change our perception of the world around us and I hasten to say that Charles de Lauzirika’s CRAVE is one of those films. Just as Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver altered the public consciousness to the fact that the Vietnam War was still very real to many people and that good intentions can make monsters of us all, CRAVE alerts us to our own desires and need for change that we are unable to act upon. CRAVE deals with the fact that it seems all the more impossible to “be the change you want to see” when there are signs all over telling you to do so. It deals with our own neurosis that have arisen in an age of constant stimulation and demand.
It all begins with Aiden (Josh Lawson), a freelance photographer who specializes in crime scenes. Tired of being exposed to all the murder and death around him without being able to affect any change he daydreams; everything from Bill Gates giving him a billion dollars to getting the girl, he lives in his fantasies. His friend on the police force, Pete (Ron Perlman), only assures him that the police can only do so much and acts as a concerned sounding board to Aiden’s rants against the world. Aiden soon gets acquainted with his cute neighbor, Virginia (Emma Lung), who is on her way out of a fractious relationship with Ravi (Edward Furlong). As Virginia and Aiden begin to date and slowly learn to accept each other, Aiden’s fantasies and emerging vigilantism get in the way time and again.
It is pretty impossible to talk about CRAVE without mentioning Taxi Driver, the difference being that Travis Bickle was dealing with a post-Vietnam society while Aidan deal with an “easy access” society, one that makes it all too easy to make money then spend it, to say you’ll change then to say you’ll do it the next time. CRAVE is a perfect emblem of our times. The film manages to be a critique of our times without damning it. There is still light and love and happiness but not always in the avenues or people you expect.
De Lauzirika’s direction is nearly flawless shifting between Aidan’s inner psyche and the world around him, creating one of the most interesting unreliable narrators I’ve ever come across on film. De Lauzirika’s directs with such confidence that he is able take themes that we’ve seen time and again and make them fresh and entertaining.
One of the most surprising things about CRAVE is how darn funny it is. It veers easily between black comedy and heart-breaking without missing a beat or pandering to its audience. This is in large part due to its lead Josh Lawson. He has mastered the Everyman (and making you like the Everyman), even when that man may be going to a town just south of crazy. Beyond Lawson, the whole cast is terrific. While they and the situations they are in all seem like they’re about to turn into something entirely absurd, they all give warm, grounded performances that make you not only engage with each of them, but like them.
CRAVE is bold, funny, dark, absurd, surprising, and real. For all of the insanity that happens in the story, de Lauzirika and his cast have made a brilliant film that truly speaks to our times.