- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Vantage
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
f a movie like Drake Doremus’ mumblecore drama “Like Crazy” can win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, then either the Park City-based film festival is losing its touch, or the movie didn’t face very stiff competition. Neither of those theories would explain why the film has been so well received, but you can count me among its few detractors, because while it certainly has an interesting premise with its raw and honest look at a relationship put through the wringer, the movie doesn't work if you don't care about the lead characters. "Like Crazy" isn't quite as depressing or excruciating to watch as last year's like-minded "Blue Valentine," but at least that film had something actually worth saying.
The film begins with British college student Anna (Felicity Jones) leaving a weird note on the car of her American classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Though some guys might be frightened by the stalker-like nature of the letter, Jacob is actually bemused and asks Anna out on a date, where the pair falls madly in love and becomes inseparable for the remainder of the school year. But when Anna violates the terms of her student visa to spend more time with Jacob, she’s promptly shipped back to the U.K., forcing the couple to face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. While Anna fights the authorities on her travel restrictions, Jacob opens a furniture business that roots him in Los Angeles, making it even more difficult for the pair to stay together.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to emotionally invest in either character when their relationship doesn’t even feel real. I’m not adverse to the idea of love at first sight, but the whole romance happens so fast that it borders on creepy, and although you're rooting for them most of the way, you can tell pretty early on that the relationship is destined to fail. Anna and Jacob make so many shockingly bad decisions over the course of the film that they deserve each other and the misery they bring upon themselves. We’re led to believe that they’re so much in love that they can't stand being apart, and yet when it comes to making their long-distance relationship work, neither one seems willing to try very hard.
It doesn’t help that the two leads don’t have much chemistry, either. Though newcomer Felicity Jones is captivating to watch on her own (you can see why Jacob would fall so head over heels for her), Anton Yelchin is pretty flat by comparison, with seemingly only two emotions at his disposal. Blame it on the actor or the lack of a proper script, but he just doesn’t respond to the mumblecore style of filmmaking particularly well. The performances are more naturalistic because so much of the film is improvised, but it comes at the cost of any real character development. Instead, Doremus pads the story with a series of montages featuring the lovesick couple alternatively swooning and moping that become so grueling to sit through that it’s no wonder the movie is such a drag. Not every film about relationships calls for a happy ending, but they do need characters you actually care about, and that’s where “Like Crazy” falls hopelessly short.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
Paramount's Blu-ray release of "Like Crazy" only boasts one special feature, but it's a good one: a fairly informative audio commentary with director Drake Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts and director of photography John Guleserian that discusses at length the various aspects of making the movie. It's not much, but it's a lot better than nothing.