CRAVE (director/writer: Charles de Lauzirika; screenwriter: Robert Lawton; cinematographer: William Eubank; editor: David Crowther; music: Justin Caine Burnett; cast: Ron Perlman (Pete), Edward Furlong (Ravi), Josh Lawson (Aiden), Emma Lung (Virginia); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Charles de Lauzirika/Robert O. Green; Phase 4 Films; 2012)
“The fantasy urban vigilante pic ends with a whimper instead of a bang.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Debut feature directed by Charles de Lauzirika is about an anxiety-ridden 35-year-old haunted and frustrated dreamer, a Detroit crime scene photographer, Aiden (Josh Lawson), who has a constant out-loud inner monologue going. It works very well as a sympathetic tragi-comic character study that is disturbing and with film noir pretensions, but when it become overwrought with gratuitous violence it instead shoots for silly comedy and the pic shows it doesn’t give two shits about the nerd it characterizes and the fantasy urban vigilante pic ends with a whimper instead of a bang. It’s sort of a Taxi Driver pic without a taxi, Scorsese or a credible full-blown cry out about urban decadence.
Our soft hero, a recovering alcoholic, is a sexually frustrated free-lance photographer, who is out of sorts in a crime-ridden decaying Detroit, and feels since he’s such a coward in real-life he must compensate for his inadequacies by dreaming that he is a super-hero. Aiden is shown in his dream world rescuing a damsel in distress from two menacing abusive thugs on a public bus and shooting them, and, in a funny scene, driving a sledgehammer into the head of an obnoxious know-it-all at an AA meeting.
Reality changes for Aiden one night, as he’ robbed by a jumpy armed Hispanic while at a party store and later recovers in the street the gun used by the same perp in a killing around the corner.
At all the numerous crime scenes photographed by Aiden, he always encounters grizzled world-weary veteran detective Pete (Ron Perlman) for some subdued chats about how rotten the world has become. Pete seems to understand Aiden’s desperate life and haunting visions of the violent city, and befriends him in the limited way he can. When Aiden eyes the beautiful 22-year-old Virginia (Emma Lung) having a spat with her creepy boyfriend Ravi (Edward Furlong) in front of the apartment building where both are tenants, he makes contact with his fellow tenant on the elevator and to his astonishment scores. The hope here is that sex and love can save this downtrodden soul. But not so fast, as the shlub, who is socially awkward and has a penchant for saying the wrong thing, blows that relationship but now armed gets enough nerve to begin to act out his fantasy rich life as a vigilante and protector of the deserving Motor City denizens and loses any stability he might have once had as he goes over the edge and turns into a loony.
Despite falling apart in silliness instead of keeping it dangerously on edge as something real, the pic still makes for a compelling watch.
REVIEWED ON 11/27/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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