Starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Micaela Ramazzotti, Valentina Carnelutti
Director: Paolo Virzi
Running Time: 118 mins
Like Crazy (La pazza gioia) is an Italian film about two women, residents in a mental facility in rural Tuscany, who manage to escape and, despite their hugely differing personalities and backgrounds, form a strong bond as they embark on an adventure of freedom around the region.
I enjoyed this film. Although I wouldn’t say it’s a perfectly-executed movie from start to finish, it does prove a both entertaining and engrossing watch thanks to a clever story, well-written characters and a strong atmosphere that allows for some fun hijinks along with some genuine heart, all of which come together to make a strong, albeit not perfect watch.
Let’s start with what works best about this film: the drama. The comedy-drama balance can often be a real tightrope, and there’s no question which side of the fence Like Crazy falls onto. While it does have a fun atmosphere and good humour, both of which lighten the story to make it more enjoyable, the most memorable part of the whole film definitely comes when delving deeper into the psyches of the two main characters.
Much like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, this film centres on the outsiders in the mental institution, the one thing that keeps them in common despite their huge basic differences (like McMurphy and Chief). However, that’s a really interesting focus to take, and it works very well throughout this movie, as we get a very genuine and intriguing look into the minds of two very complex characters.
On the one hand, there’s the motormouth from the privileged background, who flaunts her way around wherever she goes, proclaiming her own brilliance and getting into numerous difficult situations as a result. On the other, there’s the quieter but more mysterious woman from a difficult background, clearly having suffered heavily in her past, leaving something that’s had quite an impact on her over the years to put her in the state she is now.
That contrast between the two, and the fact that it’s the characters’ backgrounds and innermost thoughts that are put at the forefront of the story’s focus, makes this film work so well, and despite neither woman being the most immediately likable in the traditional sense, they both really grow on you throughout the movie as we learn more and more about them, leading up to what is a genuinely moving finale to the whole story.
However, don’t think that this is just a heavy drama, because there’s still a lot of room to have fun with it as well. The contrast between the two leads may be excellent for the drama, but it also helps to make some of the hijinks that the pair get into all the more entertaining, bringing somewhat of a Thelma & Louise dynamic to their adventure away together, and heightening the fun factor to a surprising extent.
On the whole, I really enjoyed Like Crazy, but for one small issue. It’s a well-written, character-motivated film with good drama throughout, as well as some fun laughs along the way, but I can’t say that it’s the most likable film you’ll ever see.
Of course, not every film has to be enjoyable to be praised, but there was something about this film, whether it be that throwaway adventure atmosphere or the boisterous nature of one of the two leads, that made me feel like it really wanted to be liked, and was trying to be a lot more fun than what actually turned out to be the case. It’s a small issue indeed, but it did become a little frustrating for me throughout, not allowing me to enjoy the film to the full extent I really wanted, and that’s why I’ll give Like Crazy a 7.5 overall.