This documentary chronicles the story of the life of Barry Crimmins, a gritty, angry comedian turned political activist. Written and directed by his friend and fellow comedian, Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky offers an intimate portrayal of Barry’s complicated personality, including how a tragic history of sexual abuse shaped his humor, his relationships, and his activism. (SPOILER ALERT: Barry nearly died on numerous occasions of asphyxiation as his face was shoved into a couch to keep him from screaming, while he was repeatedly and habituatually sexually abused by a babysitters’ boyfriend).
There was so much pain in this story, so much lament. One can often hear a Sunday sermon about God’s heart for the victimized, the powerless, the abused, that God is loving and caring and on the side of the oppressed. The true gift of this film, is that it offers the audience a chance to feel the very sadness and suffering and love that characteristic of the heart of God. This film makes you care, by breaking your heart. It confronts viewers with the reality of Barry’s trauma, allowing them to weep for him and the countless others who have been similarly victimized. In doing so, it stirs the audience to compassion and activism, and at the end of the movie, the audience was given the opportunity to respond, by being offered information about an organization which provides support groups for those who have been abused (snapnetwork.org).
The movie was not all tragedy, however. Similar to most lament psalms, the film turns towards hope and redemption. It shows how Barry’s wounded self was able to confront his demons and become a man of incredible conviction, devotion, and compassion. It demonstrates how far Barry has been willing to go to combat the structures of this world that cause all sorts of violence and oppression and suffering. Overall, Call Me Lucky was a profoundly moving film, full of laughter and tears, lament and hope, and it was my clear Sundance winner for the week.