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Like Crazy - Movie Review

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Like Crazy - Movie Review

4 stars

For a film with virtually no plot, little scripted dialogue, and only the most basic of character sketches, Like Crazy manages to say more about true love than even the grandest of classic love stories. That’s because Like Crazy isn’t so much a love story as it is a realistic depiction of what couples really experience when they fall in love.

Rather than feed us yet another ethereal fairy tale about the ideals of love filmed in a bath of golden-hour sunlight, filmmaker Drake Doremus grabs a hand-held camera and stuffs it in the faces of his actors who work from an in-depth, extended outline rather than a traditional screenplay with hard-and-fast dialogue. The result is an emotionally raw bit of filmmaking that, while rarely pretty, finds most of its success down in the trenches where love can be a killer and a spirit-lifting force, all in the course of a single day. Love isn't always pretty, and subsequently, neither is Doremus's film.

The film opens as we meet Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin), on their first date as college students in L.A. He’s a budding young interior designer; she’s a talented writer from London. We’re in on every sliver of conversation from shared pleasantries to casual comments on the awkward size of the diner’s coffee cups.  Even in these most mundane moments, Doremus holds our attention with his revealing camera that wanders back and forth, from face to face, slowly uncovering an early spark of attraction. We get a strong feeling in the film’s earliest moments that Doremus is going to masterfully show us how love feels, rather than how it looks. Derek Cianfrance pulled off the effect with last year’s blistering Blue Valentine, now it’s Doremus’s turn.

One of the keys to executing the effect is ensuring that we really like and enjoy the characters. With little in the way of plot or direction, (or anything for them to even say), the characters must have that extreme likeability factor, but at the same time, display an emotional nakedness and complexity to make us feel their connection. Anton’s quiet perceptive artist plays nicely against Jones’s crisp, starched British practicalities as we ride along with their roiling, dizzying, over-in-a-flash moments of true love. We feel the pair’s extreme heartache when Anna must eventually return to England after letting her student Visa expire. Spending even just two more short months together  seems worth going up against Homeland Security.  That is, until Anna isn't allowed back into the U.S.

With their long-distance relationship now reduced to a constant flurry of hurried text messages, missed phone calls and ecstatic reunions that always turn into bittersweet departures, Anna and Jacob grow apart. Anna gets a promotion to junior editor at her publishing company, Jacob's furniture business takes off. The perils of long-distance relationships creep in as Jacob seeks solace with his assistant, Sam (Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna takes up company with her neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley), yet every time they are pulled apart, something lures Anna and Jacob back together again - something they can't seem to hold onto, yet can't live without. The bulk of the remaining runtime deals with the trials of maintaining a long-distance relationship with us peering in, never at a distance, and always with a knowing nod of familiarity.

Like Crazy is a difficult film to watch with its unconventional camera-work, mumble-core dialogue and sometimes off-putting look at human relationships. But its rewards are abundantly gratifying. How you feel about it will depend on how you feel about watching, voyeuristically, young passion blossom and fizzle in fits and starts. Many will find themselves challenged by the film's French new wave stylings and its emphasis on personal artistic expression and spirited naturalism, but sometimes the joy in watching film comes from stepping just outside our comfort zone.

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Like Crazy - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.
Director
: Drake Doremus
Writer
: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Cast: Anton Yelchin; Felicity Jones; Jennifer Lawrence
Genre
: Romance | Drama
Tagline:
I want you - I need you - I love you - I miss you
Memorable Movie Quote: "I thought I understood it. But I didn't. I knew the smudgeness of it. The eagerness of it. The Idea of it. Of you and me."
Distributor:
Paramount Vantage
Release Date:
October 28, 2011 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 6, 2012

Synopsis: A love story is both a physical and emotional tale, one that can be deeply personal and heartbreaking for an audience to experience. Director Drake Doremus' film "Like Crazy" beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating. When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin) they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey only to be separated when she violates the terms of her visa.

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