Xavierpop Does @TADFilmFest – Louis Goes Down and Dirty With The Dark And Gritty ‘Crave’

Writer and Director Charles de Lauzirika has created a sober examination of a man struggling with his hold on reality. As dark and gritty as the Detroit streets it’s shot on, it honest peek into the dark heart of a man who struggles with loneliness and hopelessness.

Aiden (Josh Lawson) is a crime scene photographer and recovering alcoholic. Called to shoot various death scenes by his AA sponsor and policeman friend Pete (Ron Pearlman), he also has a running dialogue with himself both creating a rich fantasy world with him as hero while also berating himself. A ride home on the subway sees both that fantasy world and reality clashing in his mind.  Upon arriving to his building, he sees an argument on the street between Virginia (Emma Lung) and Ravi (Edward Furlong). As he enters the building, Virginia joins him on the elevator. The two begin to build a relationship, of sorts.

While Aiden is still living in his mind he desperately tries to live his fantasy. First he tries his hand at blackmail, but then with the discovery of a gun he can keep for himself, fantasy and reality begin to come closer. His ever growing need to be with Virginia, coupled with his fear of Ravi returning to Virginia’s life leads him and his rich fantasy life, on a collision course with that very reality he both avoids and tries to control.

Paranoid, delusional, without cause or focus in his life, Aiden drifts hopelessly through the world. His loneliness is as much the cause of his problems as his inability to look away from the darkness. Played brilliantly by Lawson, his projection of complex and subtle emotional struggles carries much of the film. The actor shows a range and depth that belies the simplistic and cartoonish character he is known for on House of Lies. Equally as important is Pearlman, a veteran homicide detective who is also his AA sponsor, giving sage advice and fathering him in many ways. Pearlman’s character is highlighted by what he doesn’t say as much as what he does, and the actor is able to shrewdly express thought without speaking. Emma Lung is bright, bubbly and perfect as an object of desire. Coming across as a young, innocent yet sophisticated city girl who has already seen too much in her life. An empathetic and sad character, the viewer can understand her initial desire for Aiden, as well as the growing unease as the relationship continues. These three make up the center of the film, and the quality and intensity of the acting is quite superb.

Beautifully shot by cinematographer William Eubank who also shot last year’s Love, it features a gritty and dark Detroit. In choosing this particular city, we have an empty, lonely city, decaying around its citizens as it struggles to maintain what it once was. Much like the lead the few shiny bits do not do enough to cover the decay and potential for disaster beneath. The interplay between the characters and the set, Aiden desperate for his fantasy to become real is overshadowed by empty streets, empty buildings, and a city empty of humanity.

Alternating between what Aiden wants, what he sees in his mind’s eye, and what really happens begins to distort for the viewer as well. At points it begins to blend in an almost surrealistic way. Aiden talks to himself, he talks to himself about not talking to himself, he talks to the audience, he talks out loud when he thinks he is only thinking it. It becomes clear that Aiden’s addictive personality has found a new focus, but it is unclear to what extent he will go to maintain this addiction, and what the consequences of it will be.

One quick mention, there are plastic windmills in Aiden’s windowsill featured throughout the film. Without saying too much, they serve an important purpose to the plot of the film, but also during the ending credits. Be on the lookout, as these whirligigs are used in a very creative manner that reflects various scenes throughout the film.

While not an easy film to watch, its complex and composite story and acting are quite compelling and richly developed. Those with a desire to see a penetrating mosaic of a man living on the edge of both society and reality should be on the lookout for this and see it as soon as possible.