Like Crazy Directed by: Drake Doremus Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence Running Time: 1 hr 29 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: November 4, 2011 (Chicago)
PLOT: An American college student (Yelchin) falls in love with a European girl (Jones) who is studying abroad. They begin a relationship that is tested by distance, fidelity, and time.
WHO'S IT FOR? Like Crazy is bound to appeal to a younger audience searching for the next love-filled indie movie to cherish. Those outside the "young love" demographics might have a positive reaction to the movie as well - and will be relieved that this movie doesn't have an overbearing sense of "hipness" worn on its sleeve.
EXPECTATIONS: I knew little about Like Crazy, other than some of the heat it had picked up from successful appearances at festivals like Sundance.
Anton Yelchin as Jacob: Yelchin gives an instinctual performance as Jacob, the kind of guy we all really relate to (at least, if also like drawing chairs). When he feels crappy, he grows hideous facial hair. But more importantly, when he's in love, he gives very thoughtful gifts (a chair!) Furniture is an odd fascination for a character, but at least such traits set Jacob apart from other romantics of the same movie universe. Yelchin plays him less like a familiar character, but a person we actually know (or already are). Score: 7
Felicity Jones as Anna: Like her co-star, Jones is able to keep us engaged in all facets of this presentation of a relationship. We're with her on the ups and the downs, and the in-betweens as well. Jones maintains a sweetness without hitting you over the head such sugary presence - she's not the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" (a term coined by The Onion) that screenwriters tend to morph the women that have naturally inspired them into. Score: 7
Jennifer Lawrence as Sam: Playing "the other girl" in Jacob's life away from Anna, Lawrence doesn't have a large part in the movie, but she plays such a designation with subtle desperation. She's got her own issues of broken love that make her "crazy" even though we can tell Jacob's just another guy who "likes" her (see what I did there?) All of us are just looking for somebody. Score: 6
TALKING: Through both sincere improvisation and this movie's genuine inspiration, Like Crazy breathes on its natural dialogue. Especially in any moment presenting the commendable chemistry between Jones + Yelchin, interactions are quite real, and with all of the awkward bumps, pauses, and a few stutters in between. Score: 7
SIGHTS: In keeping with the realism to how modern relationships function, Like Crazy features a good amount of iPhone texting, and it shows such correspondences with continued intimacy - as if we're looking over the character's shoulders. Editing might be Like Crazy's most impressive visual element, as it is used swiftly to bring the two characters together, no matter how far apart they are. Intimate camera angles are certainly welcome (we're literally under the sheets with them), but clean cuts between someone riding on the subway train across from you, and then they just vanish, subtly offer the real feelings Like Crazy is so focused on achieving. Score: 7
SOUNDS: "Dead Hearts" by the band Stars plays during the film's credits. It's a catchy tune worth staying in your seat for. The rest of the Like Crazy soundtrack doesn't overload its audience with someone's hip, or hip-cute iTunes library, but instead pretty piano ditties by Dustin O'Halloran color the movie's love-filled moments. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: The moment in which Anna decides to stay, instead of going home, is silly, but a nice dash of fantasy for anyone who has ever had to go through a long stretch of distance from a cherished one.
ENDING: In some ways, this is probably the best place in which Like Crazy could have concluded. But it's a little too ambiguous. Then again, what relationship movie of this type ever ends with a clean ending? There's a reason that movies like this and Blue Valentine aren't at all considered to be fairytales.
QUESTIONS: You can read my interview with co-writer/director Drake Doremus soon. And wow, I did a little interview with Yelchin and Jones as well!
REWATCHABILITY: Apparently Paramount is pushing Like Crazy as one of "those" movies, which means I'd like to take a look at it again in a couple of months to see how it near ultimately stands. In general, in the company of someone special, I could watch this movie again.
Like Blue Valentine, Like Crazy hurls audiences into the middle of a relationship; into all of the playing around in bed episodes, or "I think I don't like you" moments etc., that make up the emotional meat of any relationship. Like Crazy is your fiction writing major friend's long-winded blog entry that goes over every key event involving a loved one who has driven him crazy (and to resort to such personal depths of storytelling). He's got all the pieces, and he's trying to see how they all fit together.
The irony of Like Crazy is that while making an honest film in search of the answers, he's overlooked the key to fixing the main problem: honesty.
And with such honesty, Doremus nails certain episodes during our relationship that strike us strong in that moment, whether we remember them in the long run. Example: The first fight; the first time we have distance from someone who we, up to that point, had never imagined we'd want to get away from. Doremus especially show such a tight grip on rarely explored, small yet pivotal moments with the very solid chemistry between Yelchin and Jones (which works at any temperature).
The flaws of whatever events that inspired Like Crazy are now what makes his bleeding heart monologue notably ineffectual as an emotional film. The frustrating lack of honest communication between Anna and Jacob might get on audiences nerves, as opposed to reaching to our hearts. Like Crazy pushes its charm of honesty to sacrificing whether we identify its characters. It's not like he simply takes us to places and moments we've all been before. It's more a matter if he makes us all that crazy to be back in such places.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10