A Modern Day Romance
by Zac Sanford
Young lovers struggle to hold onto passion against the challenges of career, distance and Homeland Security in Like Crazy. The tightly constructed scenes feature mostly improv dialogue that give this Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner an air of authenticity that is a refreshing deviation from the typical blueprint of Hollywood romance films.
Anna (Felicity Jones), a journalism major from the UK, falls for Jacob (Anton Yelchin), but instead of professing her love for him, she leaves him a four-page note proclaiming her feelings. In the end, she hopes that Jacob won't think she's crazy, which brings a slight smile to his face. Over the course of a couple months, the two fall madly in love and seem perfect for one another, but the looming end of school, and the expiration of Anna's student visa, quickly throw the first kink into their relationship.
Instead of heading home, Anna decides to stay with Jacob through the summer, ignoring the rules of her student visa. After Anna returns home from a holiday with her parents, she is refused re-entry by US Customs. She calls Jacob, who is awaiting her arrival at the airport, and tearfully informs him that she's being sent back home. He promises he will do whatever he can to get back together with her.
This is only the first of many bumps that plague their relationship over the years. No one is sure how much time passes between scenes and the times in which they can reconnect as the film flawlessly jumps in time. Eventually work gets in the way. Anna lands a promotion that keeps her in the UK, while business is booming at Jacob's furniture design company. But they do whatever they can to be together, mainly leaving Jacob to make the jaunt across the pond as Anna's immigration privileges are being appealed by her family attorney.
As more and more time passes between each and every trip, jealousy and new relationships begin to blossom for both of them. It is only the reconnection and being in the presence of one another does their true love spark fully once again.
Writer/director Drake Doremus doesn't allow the film to follow the stereotypical formula of the Hollywood romance. The handheld camera gets in close and gives the film a voyeuristic feel. The script (co-written with Ben York Jones) was assembled more as an outline, leaving the actors to improvise their lines, giving the film an aura of authenticity.
The stars have a real chemistry that shines through, especially Jones. She brings her character to life with the understated delivery of her lines, allowing a look or a smile to deliver more than words ever could. It is not a surprise that she won a grand jury prize for acting at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Like Crazy also features Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar-nominated for Winter's Bone last year) as Anna's rival for Jacob's affection.
This is a modern day romance that shows the highs and lows of being in a long distance relationship. The stars shine and should receive many more kudos as the awards season kicks into high gear.