TADFF 2012: ‘Crave’ an engaging debut that’s more evocative than innovative


Directed by Charles de Lauzirika

Written by Charles de Lauzirika and Robert Lawton

USA, 2012

Although this review is going to be about Charles de Lauzirika’s Crave, it seems appropriate to talk about it in relation to Taxi Driver, because despite its best efforts to differentiate itself, Crave just can’t seem to emerge from its obvious shadow of influence. Throughout the film, the anti-hero pontificates to his imaginary enemy while waving his gun at them, has relationship-ending theatre-going experiences with his date, is involved in convenience store stickups, and has a deep-seated hatred for pedophiles and pimps; but he is not supposed to be Travis Bickle. Right.

The anti-hero is Aiden (Josh Lawson), a cynical Detroit crime scene photographer who’s troubled with the urban and moral decay of his city. An introvert by birthright, Aiden copes with his anxieties by escaping to the dark recluse of his inner fantasies, where he’s an all-powerful, law-bringing lone wolf swimming in machismo and breasts. Although friends with a Detroit cop (Ron Perlman), who’s criminally insouciant, Aiden doesn’t start to indulge into his vigilante fantasies until he meets Virginia (Emma Lung), a woman more concept than reality (that concept being the Manic Pixie Dream Girl).

To be fair, Crave does try to be different, adding implications of simulated or imagined reality to the script, as well as offering black and often times bloody humour. This approach compromises the film’s overall tone, because of its caprice, but they do bring genuine laughter with its imagination and context (the AA meeting sledgehammer scene being a prime example; also, Bill Gates). The idea of imagined reality comes to the forefront near the end of the movie, blanketing the entire film with a more ambiguous layer, but because of the erratic tenor of the film as a whole, some may perceive it less seriously than it was intended to be taken.

The acting is universally good, with each actor taking his or her turn as the center of focus and holding it well (Edward Furlong is also in this, as Emma’s ex), and for his first feature, director Charles de Lauzirika should be commended for a well-made and often engaging debut; albeit one that’s more evocative than innovative. With the Taxi Driver template protruding dangerously out of its very structure, from story to characters, Crave can take solace in the fact that, at the very least, even the most mediocre of Taxi Driver facsimiles are passable; and Crave is at least better than mediocre.   

– Justin Li

The 7th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 18-26. For a complete schedule and ticket information, please visit the offical website.

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