You know that girl that stays with the guy even though he treats her like shit and calls her stupid? Yeah, it’s rough watching relationships like that, but believe me, as far as dysfunctional relationships go, they could be a lot worse off. That’s the main lesson to take away from the 2007 documentary Crazy Love. The film focuses on the relationship and subsequent marriage of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach and all the trials and tribulations they’ve faced.
Why is the movie named Crazy Love you may ask. Well, there’s something important to understand about Linda and Burt. After Linda broke Burt’s heart, he hired several men to go to her house and throw acid in her face, which blinded her. If he couldn’t have her, no one could. Now, I’m no Carrie Bradshaw or Dan Savage, but to me, that might cause momentary pause. Yet, the relationship continues and they remain married to this day. Oh yeah, and the acid incident was after Burt lied about being married as well as getting a divorce. Left blinded after the incident, Crazy love feels like a disturbing account of Stockholm Syndrome. Linda was essentially ruined to the world after that and couldn’t find a man that would love her the same way that Burt did.
Now the documentary itself leaves something to be desired. It starts out with an interesting albeit twisted premise, but it just doesn’t deliver. The pacing feels rushed in many parts and I found myself wanting to know more. By the end of the film’s 92 minute running time, I wished I’d spent that time reading a book or newspaper articles about the couple instead of watching the doc. God knows there are enough clippings about it. But it’s clear to see that it’s a labor of love for the director. Unfortunately, that kind of passion for a story often leaves the creator blind (pun intended) to the flaws of the film.
The movie feels like Dan Klores and Fisher Stevens may have wanted to focus on too many things for one movie, while I was simply interested in the two folks. It reads much better as a character study for me. See, while Burt is certainly depraved in his way, Linda’s no picnic either. I’m not saying she deserved to have this happen to her, but something shifted in accounts of her from before the accident as opposed to after. After the accident she tried to start over, but Burt continued to write to her from jail. She then proceeded to ask him for money, only to inform the police that he was still writing to her. She conveniently left out the detail that she asked for and accepted money from him.
The film focuses on Burt as the monster, which he clearly is, but that doesn’t mean Linda is free of blame. They’re both awful people that truly deserve each other. At least, that’s what I took away from it. Instead, the film suggests the moral is that love knows no bounds, even if it’s illegal. In short, Crazy Love is an interesting premise that falls apart on execution, on both a cinematic and an ideological level.