Special/Signature Issues » Rental Unit

"Crazy Love"

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If you want all the enjoyment out of "Crazy Love," stop reading now, because, even more than most documentaries, its tabloid heart beats with a shocking revelation.

In 1957, a successful ambulance chaser/doctor named Burt Pugach hired a goon to walk up to the door of his young, attractive ex-girlfriend, Linda Riss, and when she answered, he threw acid in her face, partially blinding and disfiguring her for life. That's not even the shocking part. Years later, Burt and Linda were happily married.

Filmmaker Dan Klores tells his story in a journalistic style like a feature in The New York Times Magazine. We get all the back story leading up to the crime and how the news of it erupted in New York. Pugach was sentenced to 15 to 30 years. During this time he continued to write to Linda.

Klores makes Linda our focus, for she is, at least at first, the sympathetic figure. After recuperating and adjusting to seeing only colors and blurry shapes, Linda moved from New York to make a new life. She managed to date a few men and even developed a serious relationship with one of them. She looks very beautiful in old pictures with her glasses on. But once she takes them off, the suitor flees from her disfigured eyes.

So what was she thinking, decades later, when she went back to Burt? Klores makes stabs at this answer, but, too distracted by the material's luridness and stymied by the opaqueness of his subjects, he makes little headway. Is Linda the kind and forgiving person she seems, or just desperately lonely? We can guess that she just wanted to be loved, even if it meant by the man who had thwarted that desire. But "Crazy Love" doesn't know. It's an idea perhaps too shocking even for it to contemplate. (PG-13)



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