Crazy Love

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This review was written for the festival screening of "Crazy Love." 

Shoot the Moon Prods. in association with Stevens/Zieff   

PARK CITY -- "Crazy Love," a bizarre true story of pathological love, possession and maiming, which certainly fits into the truth-is-stranger-fiction category, is a case of intriguing subject matter and lackluster execution. Despite the inherent, shocking nature of the material, Dan Klores' narrowly focused, poorly paced documentary lacks a narrative thrust that could have made for a more compelling film.

Old photographs and home movies of Linda Riss, who grew up in the 1950s, reveal an uncommonly attractive, sensual woman full of vitality. In on-camera interviews, numerous friends attest to her singular beauty and her hold over men. Her aura of glamour captured the imagination and triggered the compulsions of Burt Pugach, a philanderer and narcissistic manipulator with a lifelong habit of trimming the truth.

Burt is whom Jean Paul Sartre had in mind when he wrote: "Hell is other people." Linda, initially impressed by Burt's money and style, found out he was married. After she broke it off, Burt threatened and stalked her before dispatching criminals who threw acid in her face and blinded her. The media ate the story up.

Linda, an inveterate New Yorker and one tough lady, gamely faces the camera, her disfigurement concealed behind a wig and sunglasses. She calls herself damaged goods. He had said that if he couldn't have her, nobody else would. He got his wish.

Burt went to prison. After he was released, she married the jerk. Then they went on the TV talk show circuit, queried by incredulous interviewers. They've been together for 28 contentious years and according to Linda's friends, that, in itself, is a form of justice: He got his punishment, she got her revenge. 

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