Adam Sherman’s Crazy Eyes doesn’t stop with the standard disclaimer about how any resemblance between its story and real life is coincidental. Instead, it follows it with voiceover from lead Lukas Haas: “In reality, every bit of this happened just the way you’re about to see it.” That claim would normally precede a hard-hitting political drama or a gritty look at the life of a corrupt cop, but Sherman’s feature turns out to be enamored of the kind of reality that gets left out of movies not because it’s provocative or controversial, but because it isn’t particularly interesting.
Haas, playing a character inspired by Sherman himself, is an indolent trust-fund kid whose life mainly seems to consist of drinking, doing drugs, drinking, losing consciousness, waking up mid-afternoon with a splitting headache, then doing it again. There are women mixed in there as well, though he can’t always remember who they are or whether he had sex with them. But none makes much of an impression until he meets Madeline Zima, whom he promptly nicknames “crazy eyes.” He’s instantly obsessed with her, but though she’s a prodigious binge drinker who strips down to her underwear and sleeps in his bed on numerous occasions, she draws the line at sex, insisting she’s faithful to a boyfriend who never seems to materialize.
Short of having “Bad News” tattooed on her forehead in Comic Sans, Zima could hardly indicate more clearly that Haas’ best move is to lose her number, smash his cell phone, and move to another state. But he keeps after her all the same, for reasons Crazy Eyes never bothers to articulate beyond repeated use of the phrase “struggle-fuck.” (Pause. Remove vomit from mouth. Continue.) At one point, she offers herself to him on the condition that he first choke her until she passes out; mercifully, he does not succeed.
Perhaps it’s because from the correct angle Zima looks like Zooey Deschanel after a six-day coke binge, but Crazy Eyes sometimes plays like an acid satire on the way movies peddle as attractive qualities that would make real-life partners intolerable, or certifiable. But after the movie is done grinding that noxious trope into the ground, all that’s left is an oily smudge, and a sour taste in the back of the throat.