The Haitian earthquake that dominated so much of our attention earlier this year was a dramatic and awful event that left many homeless and grieving from lost family members. Just a quick glance over the facts revolving around this issue shows a dramatic and horrifying disaster unlike anything most of us could ever imagine. As of January it has been said that 200,000 died during the earthquake, and 2,000,000 people were left homeless after the destruction. As someone who personally had to deal with the effects of hurricane Katrina, not even I can imagine the horrors that these people have had to endure. The wreckage and carnage that ensued due to this horrible tragedy isn’t even fathomable for the majority of us sitting at home watching from our television set. Although this tragic event has completely destabilized the country, Kraze (aka: Broken) shows that the spirit and will of the Haitian people has not been taken away. A love story that isn’t without its problems, Kraze still manages to show that in the face of absolute adversity, we as human beings are still capable of lifting up our spirits and telling stories.
Jean is a burly construction worker who is left without a family of his own after the events of the Haiti earthquake. His beautiful wife and child were both lost during the tragedy, and he has been left to wander the streets of Port-Au-Prince with only their memory swirling inside of his mind. Jean soon finds steady work with the Reynolds family, who are wealthy and still have a home to live in unlike many of those surrounding them. As Jean does odd jobs around the house, he catches the eye old man Reynolds’ young daughter Marie who finds Jean a sweet and gentle man. Yet, the Reynolds family has much to contend with. There is a local gang of thugs, run by the maniacal Ti Fre, who are hustling this family out of their money on a weekly basis. When Jean notices this, he begins to ask around about the men who have been taking money from Mr. Reynolds. When he finds out that the group are gangsters, he muscles them off of the Reynolds property. While this doesn’t lead to immediate conflict, soon Jean is left dealing with the effects of his actions. Will Jean fall in love with the young Marie? What actions will Ti Fre look to avenge upon the Reynolds family? How will Jean deal with all of this and can he let his own past lay behind him and move on?
Kraze is not a perfect film by any means. I don’t think the filmmakers would try to argue this point either. There are some technical errors throughout the picture, including audio that seems to fall in and out throughout due to different microphones being used and no proper ADR work being done. The acting by several members of the cast is on the amateurish side and there are crucial scenes that seem to either be improvised, or not very well thought out in their execution. However, for the context of the film’s creation and the themes that the movie deals with, I feel like I absolutely have to throw up a recommendation for the film. Made just months away from this horrible catastrophe, we see a brave filmmaker dealing with the pain of a nation. The character of Jean is an every-man, and the quiet moments throughout the film where we see him thinking back on his family and his dealing with this loss seems apt for describing the entire nation and this time of mourning. The movie deals a lot with conventional storytelling, with a very obvious three act structure that showcases story, conflict and resolution; but the character moments throughout are where the heart of the story seems to lie.
While it is far from a perfect movie, director and writer Matt Davids shows promise in his solid storytelling skills and ability to capture the heartache of a nation. From the opening five minute montage of images and music showing the wreckage left in the wake of this disaster, we are shown that there is a sullen and bleak existence left for many in Haiti. Yet, I think the film shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel for many and that through selflessness, the Haitian people can rely upon one another and stop those who would take advantage. Through the hopes and dreams of the young Reynolds girl, we see that there is still a place left for idealism. Kraze does not give simple answers for its people, nor those of us who watch from foreign nations, but I think it does offer that glimmer of hope necessary to keep pressing on. If you’re given the opportunity to check the film out, I recommend doing so. It does feature a good number of cliches and it has some issues throughout, but there is a heart and soul in the film that deserves to be seen.