“Like Crazy”: I Love This Movie Like Crazy – A Review by Corey
“I thought I understood it, but I didn’t. I knew only the smudgeness of it, the eagerness of it, the idea of it: of you and me.” And with those words, I fell in love, not only with the fictitious aspiring journalist and poetic British girl that spoke them, but also with the movie in which she appeared: “Like Crazy”. It’s got everything I look for in a movie: realism, drama, conflict, romance, and British girls. But in all seriousness, there’s something really magical about the way director Drake Doremus tells the story of a college couple torn apart by long distance.
When the film opens, Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is studying furniture design and is in class with Anna (Felicity Jones). The tone of each character puzzles us and defies our expectations. Jacob is quiet and a bit awkward, and Anna is confident enough to put a two-page note – which includes a snippet of poetry – on the dash of his car asking him out. From the initial few awkward moments on their first date giggling about how big their teacups are, their relationship is utterly believable. Whereas the characters seem like somewhat serious people separately, both transform when together, becoming goofy, giddy, and charming. The chemistry between Yelchin and Jones is undeniable; as a couple they are more genuine and inspirational than some real-life couples I’ve seen.
They have an idyllic final year or so of college before Anna’s student visa is set to expire. But instead of making the rational decision of returning to the UK for the summer, Anna ignores the terms of her visa and stays an extra month or so. The days literally flash by and all too soon, Anna is gone, showing how a perhaps immature and frivolous decision ultimately bought them practically no time at all and at what price? The decision quickly becomes one to regret as Anna cannot make it through customs on her return visit to America and is effectively exiled from the United States altogether. So what once was one of the cutest romances I’ve ever seen on screen quickly devolves into the harshest long-distance relationship I’ve ever even heard of.
Much of the dialogue, particularly the banter between Anna and Jacob, is improvised, giving the actors free reign to use their natural chemistry. But what really makes Jacob and Anna’s romance shine is the fact that we never see the moments we expect. We never see Jacob and Anna’s first kiss. We never see them have sex. Their story isn’t told through those stereotypical milestones. It’s told through the chemistry hidden in the way they lay together in bed, or the way he holds her face before they kiss, or the way she looks at him when he makes a silly face. True romance isn’t in the throes of fiery passion, or the arousing unease and skepticism of a first kiss; it’s in the quiet little moments of intimacy when we feel nothing but love and mutual understanding.
The bulk of “Like Crazy” is spent with Anna and Jacob apart and trying to sort out what they need to stay happy while clinging desperately to one another. Is this true love, or just a young love that’s meant to die out? While apart, Anna quickly rises through the ranks of a magazine in England and Jacob starts his own very successive furniture business. When Jacob manages to make it over to see Anna, they lapse back into their giddy love, wearing it like a comfortable old sweater. But it’s not the same with the strain of distance looming over them. Before long they’re seeing other people but still struggling to somehow make it work. In a fantastic supporting role, the Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence plays Sam, Jacob’s other love interest. Some of the most powerful scenes in the film involve her character coming to terms with the fact that Jacob will never love her like he does Anna.
From a technical standpoint, director Drake Doremus makes a lot of innovative and interesting choices in “Like Crazy”. The music is sparse, allowing room for the natural sounds of birds chirping or cars driving by in the background, making it almost feel like a real-life documentary. But when music is used, it packs a wallop. Even the set and costume designers did a phenomenal job showing how the apartments and wardrobes of Anna and Jacob develop over time. Anna re-wears a shirt and coat several times in the movie, something that is relatively unheard of in film. And both main characters start with flip cell phones but wind up texting across the Atlantic on iPhones by the end of the film. It’s these subtle details that give us the sense of time passing and people growing – and the strains of dressing on a budget.
Wow, I could rant and rave for hours about how much I love this movie. It’s phenomenal. And if you don’t believe me, take it from the folks at the Sundance Film Festival, who awarded it the Grand Jury Prize for a U.S. Dramatic Film and gave Felicity Jones Best Actress in a Drama. It’s not just about youthful romance and it’s not just for kids in or fresh out of college. “Like Crazy” is a movie about love in its purest and most unadulterated form, reminding us that you know it’s love when it can hurt that much. You root for Jacob and Anna against all odds because you yourself want a love that’s just as adorable, just as comfortable, just as inspirational, but the pressures of real-life problems are suffocating. Do you think they can find a way to make it work? Do you think it’s even worth it? Go see it to find out, and please take me with you so I can see this fantastic movie again.