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CRAVE (review)

Review by Dean Galanis
Produced by Charles de Lauzirika, Robert O. Green, 
Marissa Neiman, Scott Robinson, Raleigh Stewart  
Written by Robert Lawton, Charles de Lauzirika  
Directed by  Charles de Lauzirika 
Starring Josh Lawson, Emma Lung, Ron Perlman,
 Edward Furlong, Christopher Stapleton,

This one’s a pleasant surprise.

 Well, maybe “pleasant” is pushing it, but Crave is a terrific little sleeper, albeit a darkly funny, at times extremely violent one.

Aussie Josh Lawson stars as a freelance crime photographer named Aiden who dreams of doing something more with his life, something greater. The nearly everyday slog of documenting victims of violence, then selling them to the highest bidder has started to take its toll on Aiden.

When we first meet him, he’s witnessing two youths harassing a pretty girl on the subway.

Aiden teaches them a bloody lesson in manners and then receives a VERY nice thank-you from the girl. It’s all a fantasy, though, and we snap back to reality: Aiden sitting idly by, doing nothing, all the while berating himself in his head.

We’re privy to most of Aiden’s thoughts throughout the film, thanks to some very witty, sometimes pathetic, oft-times disturbing voiceover.

It seems Aiden could be on the right path when he strikes up a relationship with the lovely young woman who lives down the hall (Emma Lung, also an Aussie). She’s insistent upon taking it slow, having just sort-of broken up with skuzzy Ravi (Edward Furlong) and not wanting to get remotely serious with someone new, especially someone “who could be her father”. Aiden lets this one slip (he tends to say the wrong thing a lot) after Virginia notes that he’s 35 and she’s 22. Virginia is skeeved by the comment, leading to Aiden berating himself in voiceover. “Nice job, asshole. How many 13 year olds do you know with a daughter?!”

Obviously, Aiden has a long way to go. But the interesting thing is, despite his near-constant fuck-ups, his desperate fantasies and his stalker-y attitude toward Virginia, our rooting interest lies with him. He’s got some charm, he genuinely wants to do good, he just doesn’t seem to know how. His friendship with a cop, Pete (Ron Perlman, great as usual), tends to occasionally ground him, but Aiden may be too far gone.

I’ve never met director/co-writer Charles de Lauzirika, nor have I read any interviews with him, but Crave simply must be at least somewhat personal for him.

Aiden’s views, attitudes, actions (and, even more tellingly, lack of action), sex fantasies, power fantasies and endless neuroses feel spot-on. Not to get too TMI, but 35 year old me would certainly notice some familiar sights and sounds here.

The script by de Lauzirika and Robert Lawton, while being funny, fascinating and very smart, is also admirably tight. While this could be almost labeled a black comedy, it also owes a lot to film noir. De Lauzirika is widely known as the director of many making-of’s and DVD and Blu-ray extras for the likes of Ridley Scott, Sam Raimi and David Lynch, among many others. Obviously, his day job was a fabulous film school for him, as Crave looks and sounds great, and the compositions are impressive, too.

He’s clearly good with actors as well, since all the performances are solid at worst, and in the case of Lawson, Lung and Perlman, truly excellent. They’re all the more admirable for diving head first into portraying characters that are at times rather unlikable.

Crave could have gone wrong in so many ways, but in these hands, it ends up being something quite special. I could nitpick here and there, but why bother? I

f you’re looking for something different of actual quality, give Crave a shot.

Oh, and there’s a really cool animated end credits sequence as icing on the cake.

Phase 4 Films will be releasing Crave on VOD and in Theaters on December 6, 2013
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