DIRECTOR: Drake Doremus.
CAST: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes.
SYNOPSIS: After falling head over heels for each other at University in Los Angeles, British Anna (Jones) and American Jacob (Yelchin) try to forget any thoughts of what may happen after graduation. After violating her student visa by spending an extra summer in the States, Anna is deported and a battle with immigration begins, all the while trying to maintain their long-distance relationship.
Like Blue Valentine before it, Like Crazy is no airy-fairy romance. Instead it plays against convention with Doremus delivering a film far more about the heartache and pining than the usual overblown gestures and Hollywood romance that is so often seen on our screens – and it is so refreshing because of it.
Meeting up with Anna and Jacob at different points, together or not, we view them doing the same things as each other in different countries – a transatlantic tango, if you will – intertwined with some very effective yet simple editing devices, notably one regarding Anna standing in an airport. These modern techniques draw a neat parallel to how the film is for the blogging and texting generation, with the two absolutely dependent on their iPhones for contact. But while a simple email may ease the pain for a split-second, as we see throughout, it definitely doesn’t make it any easier.
Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones have had rather different roads to their current status, Yelchin taking a mainly blockbuster route with Star Trek and Terminator Salvation and Jones taking the low-budget path with Albatross and Cemetery Junction. But regardless of their respective journeys to stardom, Like Crazy proves their intuitive nature, the majority of exchanges between the two completely off the cuff.
Yelchin may seem dominated by Jones throughout, but his performance excels through the stillness demonstrated right from the first scene where he sits listening to Anna in a classroom. Although this is an obvious theme throughout, Jacob is given the opportunity to find his voice over the years, fighting the system to get Anna’s ban overturned and showing an incredibly endearing desperation in a scene the two share in a kitchen regarding the issue of trust.
Although it can be interpreted that Jacob is never as willing as Anna to make the big move across the pond, this is one of many examples of how the film is grounded in reality, Jacob heavily invested in his business and customers, with Anna able to write from anywhere. But while both use their work as a form of catharsis to an extent, they find solace in meaningless partners (Lawrence and Bewley) who are guilty of nothing but being desperately in love with someone who can never truly reciprocate.
Doremus’ need for realism – even if Anna’s British parents (Kingston and Muirhead) are a little stereotyped with their love for whisky and board games – ensures the central relationship is never dowsed in melodramatics, instead played out with initial teen frustration and eventually the sheer regret that is subtly laid out to us through simple expressions. A scene with Jacob and Samantha (Lawrence) in a club demonstrates this perfectly, and this is testament to the brilliantly understated performances from Yelchin and Jones.
If Blue Valentine’s Cindy and Dean are this decade’s realistic portrayal of the pain and anguish at the end of a relationship, Like Crazy’s Anna and Jacob are the pair in another life, desperately trying to claw onto what is good while knowing, for the most part, that things may never get better. Like its older cousin, Like Crazy’s ending may leave us a little in the lurch, but Doremus aids us by trusting the audience to understand the characters and the choices that have led them to their final few minutes onscreen.