Crazy Love

Anyone who’s never heard of Burt Pugach or Linda Riss, and who goes into Crazy Love cold, may wonder at first why this ancient pair of quibbling outer-borough New Yorkers deserves a documentary at all. A Springer episode, maybe. By the end, though, their sordid tale could seem like the American adaptation of a great Russian novel. Writer-director Dan Klores’ formally perfunctory but emotionally probative film tackles some of our most enduring tabloid fodder: It’s about the ambulance-chasing lawyer who wooed and stalked and threatened and disfigured and married and lived happily ever after with the woman of his narcissistic dreams. Does it help to have background on Burt’s “terribly doting mother,” who bathed him until he was 12, and beat him; and on Linda, whose father wasn’t around, and who sucked her thumb until she was a teenager? Well, without damning them for their extreme codependency (or us for our morbid curiosity), Klores manages a reasonable enough thesis on the nature of forgiveness—that it’s equal parts profanity and humanity.

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