Sundance – Like Crazy
It seemed that all anyone was talking about opening weekend at Park City was Like Crazy. Of course, Red State hadn’t been screened yet, and Kevin Smith hadn’t all ready acted a damn fool. But that’s besides the point. Everyone is really excited about Like Crazy. Including me.
The film is Drake Doremus’s follow up to last year’s Douchebag which was also at the festival. In Like Crazy, he’s spun an expansively beautiful love story between two college students, one American, and one British. Anton Yelchin plays the American Jacob, studying to design furniture, where he meets the English Anna (a great breakout role for Felicity Jones). The two spend their college life blissfully in love, their most disconcerting problem being the question, “what are we going to do after graduation?”. Because Anna overstays her student visa, after a brief trip home from a wedding, she’s stopped at American customs, and deported and she has a travel ban placed on her passport. This becomes the impetus to the transcontinental, nearly unrequited love story, as she can’t enter the States, and his successful business is firmly rooted in LA.
There are a few very exciting aspects of the film. The first is the huge use of handcams. Not so innovated any more, I agree. But the degree that Doremus used them effectively gave the film the a dreamy, scrapbook-like feel. Something a twitterpated girl might make (if she had the editing skills) to homage to a deep, deep infatuation. This isn’t to say the camerawork is immature, but simply moving.
The second is the way Doremus, largely attributable to co-writer Ben York Jones, moves between great periods of time with absolutely no transition. Sometimes the next scene will chronologically take place months later than the previous one. This drifting through time, from one happy reunion, to the next heartbreak sweeps the audience up into the whirling, confusing relationship the two have. A relationship that is sometimes reduced to a few trans-Atlantic texts late at night. What’s best about Like Crazy though is the effort the filmmakers made to avoid melodrama and hyperbole. No one’s life is shatter by the distance. There aren’t great crying fits. Real issues in a romantic relationship like jealousy are, of course, examined.
Finally, the acting deserved special mention. Anton Yelchin has a smaller following, with roles in things like Alpha Dog, and Star Trek. But he has changed considerably since those roles, changed physically as well. A bit of a receding hairline and established facial hair give him a more mature look to go along with these new acting chops. Felicity Jones should now get the recognition she deserves after everyone that should sees what she can do. Even Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence delivers a fine performance as Jacob’s love-the-one-you’re-with girlfriend. A special mention must be made of the actors playing Anna’s parents, Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead, who play the emotional straight men, to the sometimes romantically unbalanced young couple. They’re funny, and charming and huge asset to the film as a whole.
The film’s realistic take on a sometimes difficult relationship may deter the mainstream (although it’s all ready been picked up by Paramount). There’s some real pain served up with the joy and beauty of the relationship. It’s a great blend of a thousand emotions nearly everyone has experienced in their love lives.