When it comes to the films filled with nostalgia and music, we often look through the catalog composed by Cameron Crowe, epically classic combos like Harold & Maude and The Graduate, or maybe some seventies party fare with Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. But one name that rarely makes the list, but should, is Jean-Marc Vallée and his 2005 film C.R.A.Z.Y.
Named after Patsy Cline's classic song, and the initials of five sons growing up during the sixties and seventies, C.R.A.Z.Y. follows a young man named Zac, born on Christmas and set to live a rather unique life. His mother is convinced that he's like Jesus and that his touch can heal, his father wants him to become a man's man that makes him proud, and Zac just wants to be happy. In youth, that means things like pushing a baby carriage, and in adolescence, it means being able to express both his love of music and his sexuality -- without disappointing the parents he loves.
In this scene, Zac puts on David Bowie's "Space Oddity," lays on his bed, and begins to smoke. At first, he thinks about a boy dancing with a girl, but only a moment later, Zac turns the cigarette inward and smiles. The smoke clears and he's imagining laying between the dancing pair at the pool, before a smoke ring soon leads the camera back to his bedroom, where Zac is slowly dancing and singing along to the song, a Bowie streak now adorning his face.
The symbolism, the choice of music, the transitions, and how it perfectly encapsulates the way a song can become an emblem for hidden desire, and a way to work through the throes of puberty, make this scene one of my favorite uses of music on film. It's one of those moments where evoking a feeling says so much more than explaining it, where a subtle expression shares so much more than a piece of dialogue.
You can check out Jette's review here, and stay tuned for the director's next film, The Young Victoria, when it hits screens sometime in November.