Sunday, July 15, 2012
Young Hearts Run Free.
Director: Drake Doremus
Written by: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes, Chris Messina.
Running time: 86 min.
Unless you're counting famous people, I guess you could say that I've never been in love. So when Like Crazy came knocking on my door, I didn't know whether I'd consumed with the tale of two young people who fall hopelessly in love with each other, only to be torn apart. Luckily, I had adorable people like Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin playing young lovebirds Anna and Jacob. Also playing to my advantage was the fact that this isn't your typical Hollywood love story. It isn't the kind filled with dreadful pop songs and half a tonne of sugar. It doesn't even fit into the twee-romance-between-two-hipsters-indie category. Writer and director Drake Doremus based the film off his real life experience with a long-distance relationship. Added in with a considerably low budget of $250,000 and the fact that basically all of the dialogue was improvised (which makes me wonder why there were two writers, but anyway...), Like Crazy tells a raw story of love, the hard way.
Jacob meets Anna, a British student hoping to become a journalist, at university in America. They fall in love with each other, even with their impending graduation looming over them as a reminder that Anna's visa will end and she'll have to return to Britain. Anna decides to extend her stay with Jacob, thus stretching her visa out for a little longer before she returns home. After that, she tries to return to Los Angeles as a tourist, but access is denied as she violated her visa, sending her back to Britain without seeing Jacob. This throws them into an unexpected, awkward long-distance relationship while Anna hopes that her lawyer can sort out something to lift the ban so she can return to see Jacob again. In the meantime, they have to make do and move on with their lives, each becoming successful in their careers on opposite sides of the world. Both of them try to engage in relationships with other people: Jacob with his colleague Sam (Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna with her neighbour Simon (Charlie Bewley), but they still find a profound connection with each other which prevents them from moving on. The big question is, though: how will their relationship fare once the ban is lifted and they can freely be together?
There are two ways you can view this film: the cynical way or the natural way. I could have veered more to the cynical team since I have no way of relating to how these two people were feeling, but Yelchin and Jones (especially Jones), were what pulled me back. Even though Doremus fast-forwards through their initial love affair, it is still plain to see that these two were in ecstasy when they were in each other's company. Things slow down once Anna and Jacob are separated, which is what separates this from other romantic films: the focus is mainly on the dark days, rather than lingering on the blossoming love between the two and having to resort to artificial schmaltz. However, there are several moments when you question the actions of Anna and Jacob. Why would Anna decide to stay if she knew it was so wrong? Why didn't Jacob just move to Britain if he loved Anna so much? And most of all, why did Anna and Jacob decide to marry at such a young age, just so they could be together? There's lots of questions that you could ask that just don't make sense in a hardened, cynical world. These people do things that can't be easily reasoned with or justified. They act on impulse instead of instinct. But you can see, through Yelchin and Jones, that they're blinded by their rose-coloured glasses, which eventually fade as the movie goes on. The only way it can make sense is if you stick those rose-coloured glasses on as well, and your heart will break as the colour starts to disappear.
Considering the large majority of the film's dialogue is improvised, Yelchin and Jones do a tremendous job of keeping everything going. Jones' performance especially was one of the biggest reasons that I took to this film. She fills the film up like a ray of sunshine, projecting her fragility, naivety and impulsiveness. Her performance is in the same league as Carey Mulligan's in An Education, as they both portray young woman blinded by love, only to see it disintegrate. Jennifer Lawrence provides good support as Jacob's other woman, as she has to deal with the fact that she'll never be Jacob's one and only. The film pretty much works on the talent of it's cast, with Doremus lensing them as if he were a spectator. I wouldn't say that this should be his claim to fame - it is what I call a "beginner movie". The talent is there, he just needs a few more tries to develop his style. At the moment, he feels a little obsessed with staying within the indie barriers, but over time he'll get more innovative.
The end to Like Crazy absolutely broke me, mainly because it made me realise the Blue Valentine qualities that it has folded away. I can't help but think that Anna and Jacob are destined for the fate of Dean and Cindy, as much as I'd like to think otherwise.
What I got: