Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

Review of Like Crazy (2011)

Posted by Max Lalanne on April 30, 2012

*Might contain slight spoilers*

There are some inexplicably absurd things in the otherwise refreshingly realistic, movingly honest Like Crazy, the indie romantic drama from first-timer Drake Doremus that set Sundance abuzz last year. Like, why would any guy not want to be Jennifer Lawrence’s boyfriend, especially when she’s crazy about you in a sweetly understanding and patient way?  I mean, seriously? And leave her crying while you go jet off to London and find your British girlfriend whom you fell in love with while she was a transfer student in Los Angeles? Come on, dude. Okay, you got the point – otherwise, Like Crazy is for the most part a moving, touching and stunningly to-the-point film, that unfortunately lacks some serious oomph to make it truly remarkable.

Anna (Felicity Jones) is the afore-mentioned British college student studying abroad for a term or semester or whatever  in Los Angeles when she meets Jacob (Anton Yelchin), and they fall in love quickly and deeply. (Cue the dreamy shots of them walking hand-in-hand along the beach, with the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel in the backdrop and nice lens flares abounding.) So deeply, that when summer comes knocking and it’s time for Anna to return home, as planned – with dire consequences if she doesn’t, more on that later – she delays leaving Jacob for the whole summer. Don’t mess with the American government, girl. Anna’s allowed to leave for a wedding back across the pond, all right, but when she returns her student visa has of course expired and she’s bundled on a plane back home, banned from the United States of America for who knows how much precious time. Leaving poor, frustrated Jacob standing outside the airport with a lonely bouquet of flowers.

And thus the bittersweet premise is complete. For pretty much the rest of Like Crazy, Anna and Jacob simply just try to rejoin one another, because they are stricken with one another like crazy and will do pretty much anything to be together. Doesn’t help though, that the filmmakers placed the two in opposite ends of the world – there’s eight hours difference between Los Angeles and London, mind you – and telephone calls start being missed and text messages ignored, with occasional short reunions leading to only more tears and heartbreak. And inevitably, while they wait on immigration and customs, new people slowly come into their romantic lives like Sam (Lawrence) for Jacob, and Simon (Charlie Bewley) for Anna. This is where Like Crazy loses some of its finely-tuned sensibility and raw believability, in my opinion, because you feel like it’s not worth it for these two kids to try and be together, they would be happier if they just forgot one another.  Anyone other would’ve given up on this relationship.

There have been talk about how much of the dialogue was improvised between Jones and Yelchin, and it shows because their performances don’t seem forced or even particularly sappy or schmaltzy, rather relaxed and spontaneous. The gentle handheld camera often lingers on their faces longer than we’re used too, allowing the full breadth of their facial emotions and expressions to be conveyed to the audience, in a very loose and let-it-be manner of style. The young actors are well-cast in their roles in Like Crazy, no argument about that. Jones resembles greatly and has the talent of, in my opinion, both Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson, while Yelchin – who was most known previously for his role in 2009’s Star Trek reboot –  provides much of a sweet, if a little dull sympathetic figure torn apart by love. Up-and-coming thespians to watch, for sure, that do much to save Like Crazy from simply being a nice, slightly forgettable romance flick.

My rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

 

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