Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Like Crazy

From London To Los Angeles, With 8000 Miles Of Love Knots In Between

Anton Yelchin as Jacob and Felicity Jones as Anna in "Like Crazy", directed by Drake Doremus. 
Paramount Pictures

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
ay, November 1, 2011

"Like Crazy" is a tightly-written romantic drama by director Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones.  Stripped of even the most schmaltzy sentiment, the film is a sensation, and relies on the pure sensations between its two star-crossed lovers Anna and Jacob, twenty-somethings separated by the politics of student visas and the indiscretions that some long-distance relationships (or short-distance ones) all-too-humanly invite.

Anna (Felicity Jones) is a British college student in London who has a love-at-first-sight attraction to Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American college student, while in Los Angeles who is floored by a letter he receives from Anna.
  It's one of the film's most pure and honest moments, and it occurs during the first few minutes.  "Like Crazy" is an intimate journey between two unsettled souls, and it's unabashedly passionate and adult, with sensitivities about romance and protocol, the hinted and the unspoken, and other situations many of us can identify with.

"Like Crazy" avoids delving into prologue about (or mechanics of) Anna and Jacob's relationship.
  There's nothing beyond the obvious that we need to know.  We plunge in.  We see love in their eyes.  We feel it.  That's it.  During the first 20 minutes of "Like Crazy" my heart pounded, for Mr. Doremus and his two onscreen lovebirds took me down memory lane.  (I've experienced two long-distance relationships, both exciting and blissful, and watching "Like Crazy" reminded me of the effervescence and unbounded joy of fresh love.)

Mr. Yelchin (and Ms. Jones especially) do well
in their roles, successfully selling Mr. Doremus's vision.  Their facial expressions convey the pain and pleasure of love's roller-coaster ride.  Anna and Jacob could have been in love and living next door to each other, and nothing, not even wild horses, would be able to tear them apart.  Their chemistry is convincing, as are their doubts and suspicions.

While fuzzy, warm chemical elements propel these brave young lovers, the elements of the human heart prove more complex.
  It is here where aspects of "Like Crazy" become predictable, albeit unsurprisingly so.  We know that the journey to togetherness won't be easy.  We simply aren't certain where the love train -- or love plane -- will let Anna and Jacob off.

"Like Crazy" spends little time cultivating external atmosphere or decoration.
  The film's romanticism isn't mystical or stylized ("Cashback") nor does it sparkle or glow ("Midnight In Paris").  Simply put, Mr. Doremus depicts memories, feelings, faces and reminisces about love's golden glow of innocence, and the viewer is blanketed by it.  More than anything, "Like Crazy" is about the delicate, tentative, vulnerable flicker of love.  Anna and Jacob are trapped in a metaphorical light bulb that burns brightly and the thin filament that holds them together is filled with the very dilemmas that will test their relationship.

Jennifer Lawrence is good in a small role as Sam, a woman who works with Jacob at his furniture design business, which he's been growing for several years.
  There are other good supporting players, namely, the only comic relief of "Like Crazy", Anna's parents (Oliver Muirhead and "Croupier"'s Alex Kingston, both fantastic.)  The parents may have started their journey of love the way Anna and Jacob did -- like a lightning bolt of power and passion.  One instinctively hopes that Anna and Jacob remain together through thick and thin the way Anna's parents have.

For all of the rawness and tenderness of "Like Crazy", one of the year's best and most mature looks at romance, the film, which had been so open hearted and true for its duration, weakens itself slightly with its ending.
  Mr. Doremus tips his hand a little too much.  There's a conceit he uses through editing that I wish didn't exist in the final scene.  The more realistic approach for the relationship that we've seen Anna and Jacob share for the film's entirety invites if not requires, an undiluted conclusion.  Love will take its twists and turns.  Roses will have their thorns.  Clouds will have their silver linings.  Que sera sera.

With: Charlie Bewley and Ben Ross Jones.

"Like Crazy" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for sexual content and brief strong language.  The film's running time is one hour and 41 minutes.

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