sun 26/05/2024

Like Crazy | reviews, news & interviews

Like Crazy

Like Crazy

Love hurts in Drake Doremus's deeply affecting Sundance Festival favourite

Alone together: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones re-define the US/UK "special relationship"

Romance follows a recognisably rocky path, and visa issues don't help much either, in Like Crazy, a small but seriously affecting movie that is sure to hit many filmgoers where they live. An Anglo-American tale of love's vagaries that doesn't follow the expected Hollywood arc, Drake Doremus's 2011 Sundance Film Festival darling raises niggling questions on various plot details while getting the large-scale issues right.

And when it's over, you may experience something resembling a dying fall, as if in sync with a story about how tough it is to sustain the intensity of the kind of love whose diminution is, well, like crazy, indeed. 

The title refers specifically to an inscription that Jacob (Anton Yelchin) has carved on the bottom of a chair that he has made for Anna (Felicity Jones), not long after the young American furniture design student has fallen hard for the English classmate in his media studies class on an unnamed Los Angeles campus. She slides a note under the windscreen wiper of his car, a café rendezvous ensues, and before long they're sharing an affection for Paul Simon's Graceland and for one another. 

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in Like CrazySo far so sweet, you might think, but also so generic, which is to misunderstand the strategies of all concerned. Shot with an outline of the trajectory of the narrative but without an actual fully-fledged script, Like Crazy possesses something of the genuinely improvisatory flavour of what most of us call life. Doremus's method allows his camera as often as not to do the work of words, the couple's burgeoning relationship caught in a wonderful sequence of purely visual vignettes (pictured above and below) that tells us infinitely more than any amount of spoken soppiness (hello, One Day) could ever convey.

What gets in the way? Not terminal illness or anything as grimly defining, though the obstacles posed by bureaucracy loom pretty large. (Anna deliberately overstays her visa, a shared decision from which the couple's initially carefree rapport never fully recovers.) But the film is smart enough to suggest that the two might not actually be ideal soulmates even without immigration hurdles throwing obvious obstacles in their path. Jacob hops on a plane to London following Anna's return home only to find that he doesn't particularly mesh with her friends, not long before she remarks that "it's hard to keep stopping and starting" - which is then precisely what their relationship, a Camden Town Hall wedding included, goes on to do. 

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones at their giddiest in Like CrazyLike Crazy is as evocative for what it doesn't dramatise as for what it chooses to include. On the outs with one another, both Anna and Jacob pursue liaisons elsewhere, and yet Doremus is less interested in the inevitable revelations and showdowns than he is in those more intimate encounters that often get left out. A shower scene late on, for instance, gradually acquires a tension that doesn't need language to announce itself. To that extent, the movie acquires the kind of quiet resonance one associates with the likes of Eric Rohmer, which isn't the first connection you'd make with a filmmaker (Doremus) whose previous credits include a 2010 entry called Douchebag.

The film has other people in it, not least a lively Alex Kingston (who went on from this to share a stage with Jones last summer courtesy the Donmar's Luise Miller), and Charlie Bewley scores in his eleventh-hour turn as the beau who will never replace Jacob in Anna's anxious heart. But Like Crazy belongs as it must to its two always natural, ever-engaging leads, Yelchin's charmingly recessive Jacob nicely paired with Jones's round-cheeked allure. In the end, you feel for both characters not because life won't go on - it will: melodrama this is not - but because they seem both beautifully and ruinously matched, in turn. Sounds crazy, no? Not in a film this wise.

Watch the trailer for Like Crazy

Shot without an actual fully-fledged script, Like Crazy possesses something of the genuinely improvisatory flavour of what most of us call life


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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