‘Crazy in Alabama’ a poignant presentation about freedom

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    By KARRI LIN

    “Crazy in Alabama” is a worthy presentation of the dual themes of freedom; one is the freedom of a woman and the other, the freedom of black people. I found myself crying and laughing as the story took me through the hardships and the sweet times that accompany the struggle for freedom.

    The movie takes place in the summer of 1965. Lucille (Melanie Griffith), a flamboyant 34-year-old woman, has just killed and decapitated Chester, her abusive husband of 13 years. Setting her goal on becoming a Hollywood star, she drops off her seven young children with her mother. Then she heads west with Chester’s head still in tow and mentally tormenting her.

    Meanwhile, Lucille’s 13-year-old nephew, Peejoe, witnesses the murder of a black teenager as a result of a civil rights movement in the town of Alabama. Sheriff John Doggett (Meat Loaf) is determined to bring Lucille to the electric chair, yet afraid to be charged with murder of several black people.

    Many may were skeptical about having Antonio Banderas as the director of this film. He is better known as the Spaniard who heated up the screen in films such as “Evita” and “The Mask of Zorro.” However, his debut film shows some potential for future work.

    “Crazy in Alabama” does suffer from simultaneously telling two separate stories, resulting in a disjointed feeling in both of them. The film seems too ambitious in trying to include black comedy, light comedy and drama. It lacks a dominant personality.

    The audience never sees the gruesome body parts of Chester. However,it is hard to believe that Lucille carries Chester’s head for so long without considering the decomposition/stench factor. Lucille also spends a significant amount of money on gambling and clothing, when it is obvious that Chester was not well-established financially.

    Even though I do sympathize with Lucille’s oppressed marriage, I also see her as a selfish and irresponsible mother. The film made her a glamorous movie star who does not have to carry out her duties as a mother and citizen. She is wasteful in nature when her mother is hardly getting by while taking care of all of her children she abandoned.

    I was not particularly impressed with Griffith’s performance. Her whining voice and flirtatious behavior are not convincing characteristics for a mother of seven. Her terrible hair — black in color — makes her seem a lot older than the supposed 34-year-old character.

    Black fares better as Lucille’s young nephew who possesses a matured soul. He is a persuasive actor who commands every scene in which he appears. He picked up a natural sounding southern accent.

    Meat Loaf is also believable as the foul racist sheriff. His physical appearance is enough to intimidate anyone into submission.

    “Crazy in Alabama” deserves much credit for tackling the civil rights movements and the liberation of a southern woman when the society did not allow either one to gain equal rights. I recommend this movie to all who want to see how the seeds of freedom grew into the security that we now enjoy.

    The film is rated PG-13 for disrespectful attitude from the sheriff and the police force toward the peaceful demonstrations from black people. The way Chester abused Lucille is also described verbally.

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