Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
There are certain type of romantic movies made. One is the fluffy, generic rom-com with fish out of water characters starring a popular actor or actress who finds their true love and lives happily ever after. These types of films are churned out on an assembly line every year and are easy bait for the type of people who like to see a film where “love conquers all.” These sometimes take a fresh approach to the formula, but the formula is generally copy and paste. Next, there is a hollywood type romance movie that takes the rom-com cliches and tries to inject a bit of truth and resonance trying to be a step above the normal rom-com but still upholding the “love conquers all” theme. A good recent example of this type of film would be this year’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” “Like Crazy” is much like last year’s fantastic “Blue Valentine” where the film is more of a drama that’s almost documentary-like. The look and relationship of the characters feels so real that we feel like voyeurs in these character’s world that feel all too close to some of our own real life relationships.
Jacob and Anna (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) are college students, he’s an american and she’s a brit, they begin to fall in love. However their passionate love hits a roadblock when she overstays her student visa and she’s not allowed to reenter the U.S.
As real and depressing as last year’s “Blue Valentine” was I couldn’t relate to the characters quite like how I could in “Like Crazy.” The feeling of meeting that person you have that first real true love with is as best represented here than any movie i’ve seen in awhile. Much like a relationship it’s the little things that matter most and scenes of the two leads goofing around, being romantic, having awkward moments all hit a little too close to home. The chemistry between the two leads is the perfect balance of passion and puppy-dog romance. Their feelings for each other cause ripples that effect each of their lives and never feel too forced, dishonest or uncompromising to the film.
Director Drake Doremus does great with a story that for the most part is largely improvised. The film shot on the Canon 7D also helps to give it that intimate, dream-like, documentary feel to the film. However this is Yelchin and Jones film to carry and they are irresistible on screen. Although their backgrounds or characteristics are pretty paper-thin (Yelchin virtually has no family to speak of) the film is more or less a scrapbook of the beginning, dissolve, and reconnection of a romance. Side characters include Charlie Bewley and Jennifer Lawrence as other love interests for the main characters who never feel planted or out of place in the story. Remarkably, Lawrence and Bewley have just as good of chemistry with the leads as they do with each other. What also could be throwaway parts are given dimension with great scenes that include a breakup and probably the most awkward marriage proposal ever. Lawrence has shown her range as a young dramatic actress but I hope doesn’t get typecast with tomboyish parts because this film shows how beautiful she can be.
Another element added to the story is the plot of the messy immigration laws that set the story in motion. Unfortunately with people trying to live in the U.S. they have to go threw an absurd amount of legal processes and red tape, which the more infuriating it becomes for the leads, the more frustrating it becomes for the viewer, both story wise and in reality. A great overlooked film called “The Visitor” starring Richard Jenkins also dealt with the unfair laws and processes facing immigrants trying to live in America. That film and “Like Crazy” each did a good job weaving a love story with an international issue.
The film is nowhere near as political as I make it sound, but is essentially all about how Love or True Love can be about perfect timing. Choices that the characters made throughout the film could have provided a different outcome or happy ending for their situation, but it doesn’t always work like that. Love has the power to wrap us up in a way that logic and inevitability don’t always come to mind, but we just want to stay cocooned in that perfect moment in time where everything seems to make sense. I remember speaking to an ex-girlfriend after a long time and wondered how things would have worked out if the timing in our lives was different. When I left the theater emotionally drained a friend of mine said to me “I didn’t like the ending, I wanted to see what happens next.” That’s the beauty and the scariest part of falling in love, we never know what’s next.