Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
There have been countless movies about young love. From “Romeo and Juliet” (the one from 1968) to “The Notebook,” the notion of two people at the beginning of what they hope will last forever has been a popular topic. Built on two very strong performances, “Like Crazy” joins the list.
Jacob (Yelchin) and Anna (Jones) are Los Angeles based students that share a college class. Jacob, who is hoping to be a furniture designer, has exchanged glances with aspiring writer Anna, but hasn’t been able to work up the courage to ask her out. One day after class he finds a note from Anna on his windshield. “PS,” she adds, “I’m not a nutcase.” After an evening out where they discover a taste for whiskey and a love for Paul Simon, the two become inseparable. Their romance has one drawback. Anna is English and soon her student visa will run out. She promises to return in the fall on a work visa but, in a spontaneous decision (and what is young love if not spontaneous) she decides to just stay in the US. The things some will do for love.
Told in close-ups and slow fades, “Like Crazy” is a film that begins strong and kind of limps to an ending that mystified me. Like the recent “Martha Marcy May Marlene” the film moves along on the back of a strong performance (two here) then just stops dead. Which is disappointing because, when it’s on track, the film shamelessly captures and revels in the marvels of young love. Nervous laughter that turns into giggles. Casual glances and stuttering during small talk. Those are sure signs that you’re falling in love. The film takes a harsh turn when, because she overstayed her student visa, Anna is barred from returning to the United States, even as a tourist. She and Jacob pledge to be true but soon their phone calls are ending in a quick “Bye” instead of a breathless “I love you.” Both find others to spend time with but on the rare occasions they’re together (Jacob visits England) they begin to rekindle the old spark. But though absence makes the heart grow fonder sometimes it makes it forgetful.
Director Doremus, who co-wrote the film with Ben York Jones, shows a fine hand with character development. His camera lingers almost as if spying on Jacob and Anna as their relationship grows. During an early date at an outside café, rather than show them in a standard two-shot, or just cut back and forth in the same scene, he frames both of them separately. Even though you know they are sitting across the table from each other, they could be in separate rooms. Both stars give well crafted performances. Yelchin, probably more known for the recent “Star Trek” reboot and the recent “Fright Night” remake, hits the right notes as a young man whose life is turned upside down thanks to that funny thing called love. Felicity Jones is equally strong. Almost docile at first she rides an emotional rollercoaster as the relationships in her life move along. Solid supporting work is also turned in by “Winter’s Bone” star Lawrence and “Twilight” saga’s Charlie Bewley as other players in the game.