Crazy Love

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“This starts off being very flattering,” a mysterious woman says behind her dark glasses. “It shortly becomes very stifling.” If you already know that the woman is Linda Riss, blinded victim of a notorious 1959 lye attack issued by her jealous boyfriend, high-rolling Bronx attorney Burt Pugach, the moment has a frisson of tabloid ominousness. Riss, decades later, knows to play up the drama, as does Pugach, who went to jail and, shockingly, managed to woo Riss into marriage after his release. Crazy Love assembles their testimony (both are compelling interviews) in a chronological fashion, even amping up the tale’s wildness with histrionic scoring.

But as with all banner-head stories, there comes a point when you tire of being screamed at. Crazy Love yearns for a deeper appreciation of the vicissitudes of romance. Here is columnist Jimmy Breslin with some crude, pugnacious commentary; there is a Riss family relative still confused by the ruined beauty’s U-turn. But how about some deeper psychological probing by the filmmakers themselves? Remembering the time right after the attack, Pugach says, almost as an aside, “Of course, I did not call her for a while.” Wow—really? Seeing the elderly couple bicker at a diner, you feel their journey has only barely been examined.

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Director: Fisher Stevens, Dan Klores
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