If you’ve ever experienced a long distance relationship, chances are you’ll be able to relate to the central themes in the 2011 film Like Crazy from filmmaker Drake Doremus (Breathe In, Equals). This is one of my favorite movie romances in a very long time, and every time I watch the film in full or in bits and pieces, I’m reminded of the sensitivity and the honesty that Doremus brought to his tale; this film has really resonated with me over the past few years. I’m a softie at heart, so when I see a film that feels as open and emotionally naked as this one, I pay close attention and can’t help but get swept up in the complexities of the story and the decisions that the characters make.
Starring the fantastic trio of Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, the film tells the story of Jacob (Yelchin) who meets Anna (Jones), but there’s a problem – she’s a British foreign exchange student who is deported after her visa lapses. Then, after their budding romance is put to the test via the long distance, Jacob meets Samantha (Lawrence), a beautiful co-worker, while Jones develops a relationship of her own back on her home turf. What will become of the central relationship and how will the characters navigate the tricky waters of young love? Doremus, for me, never missed a beat with this heartfelt, loving, subtly gorgeous movie that stresses off the cuff cinematography along with a naturalistic screenplay, which was co-written by Doremus and Ben York Jones, and was apparently heavily improvised by the actors based off a 50-page outline (per Wikipedia…)
And I wouldn’t be surprised because there’s an unforced quality to the acting, and the dialogue often stings with a sense of painful truth that might never have been able to be scripted. Jones is extraordinary in her part, registering every single emotion you could think of, while Yelchin was never better on screen, conveying confusion and intense feeling all throughout. It’s a crime that he was taken from this planet at such a young age and over something as random and stupid as a fault brake on a supposedly parked car; the acting world is less without his unique talents. And it goes without saying, Lawrence brought her sunny, sexy, vibrant personality to the sole of Samantha, creating a woman you want Jacob to fall in love with and treat well, even after you’ve fallen in love with Jones.
Everyone in this film had terrific chemistry with one another, which only makes all of the entanglements harder to judge and compare; as with life, the heart does strange things at all times. And then there’s the fantastic soundtrack that frequently comes into play, with Paul Simon POWER all over the place for extra coolness and sense of wise elegance. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 where it won the Grand Jury Prize, the film found a small theatrical release and has hopefully continued to keep audiences engrossed over the last few years via Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming.
Review by Nick Clement