THE CRAZY STRANGER (1997) [Feature]

France (MIFF 1998 , International Panorama)
Director: Tony Gatlif

The final instalment in Tony Gatlif's gypsy trilogy, The Crazy Stranger follows 1993's critical and box office winner Latchmo Drom and Mondo (1995). Stéphane is a handsome young Parisian musicologist travelling through a remote region of Romania in search of a legendary singer he hopes to record. In the language of the gypsies 'Gadjo Dilo' approximates'crazy outsider', and this is just the status that Stéphane endures until his acceptance by the initially suspicious locals.

The wizened Izidor, bemoaning the beating and imprisonment of his son, shares a drink with Stéphane and takes him under his wing - with a guide and patron to steer him through the chaotic world of the gypsies, the musicologist is soon engrossed in a rambunctious lifestyle that seems to comprise endless singing, dancing, drinking, cursing and celebrating life. Captivated by the people, and in particular Sabina, a fiery and sexually liberated young woman, Stéphane's recording quest is frustrated but all else seems to be going well until the release of Izidor s jailed son, whose anger at his mistreatment puts a match to the long-smoldering hostility of the locals toward the gypsies.

In The Crazy Stranger, Gatlif successfully integrates his desire to tell a story with his impulse to step back and simply document a people and way of life that he clearly knows and loves. Aside from its immense charm, gorgeous photography and enchanting plot, The Crazy Stranger boasts two discoveries; the sensual and sensational Rona Hartner (Best Actress award at Locarno) and the scene stealing and charismatic Izidor Serban, a gypsy non-professional. One of the treasures of MIFF 1998.

Tony Gatlif was born in Algeria in 1948. He relocated to France at 14 and directed his first film, La Tete en Ruines, at 19 and in addition to the aforementioned gypsy trilogy, Gatlif has helmed films including Canta Gitano (1981), Le Princes (1983), Rue de départ (1986), Pleure pas My Love (1989) and Gaspard et Robinson (1990).

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