Saturday, 11 February 2012


Paramount Pictures
Now Showing

In the best tradition of bitter sweet, micro-budget romances (think Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, and the Oscar-winning Irish gem, Once), comes Like Crazy, writer-director Drake Doremus' story of post-post graduate lovers thwarted by bureaucracy and the tyranny of distance.

When university students Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) fall in love in their final weeks of study at a Santa Monica university -- Doremus capturing this first burst of young love in a beautiful montage sequence, where Anna and Jacob ride in go-carts, frolic on beaches and enjoy moments of quiet togetherness -- they want that loving feeling to never end.

But when Anna overstays her student visa -- uanble to abandon Jacob for the summer and return to her native England -- she learns, after a brief trip home, that she is unable to return to the States.

What are the young lovers to do? Technology enables the couple to keep in touch regularly, and Jacob, operating a fledgling handmade furniture business, is able to cross the pond to visit Anna when time and funds allow. And while distance may make the heart grow fonder, just how long can they keep this love alive?

Should they break up, or, as Anna suggests towards the end of one of Jacob's visits, should they see other people? Or perhaps, as Anna's father suggests (Anna's parents perfectly played by Oliver Muirhead and Alex Kingston), they should get married? Certainly Jacob moving himself and his business to London doesn't seem like a viable option, and marriage would help speed up the bureaucratic process which is preventing Anna's return to America.

Matters are complicated further as the passage of time (the film takes place over an almost four year period) sees Anna's career as a writer progress, and both form attachments with other people: Anna with her pretty boy neighbour, Simon (Charlie Bewley), and Jacob with his assistant, Sam (Jennifer Lawrence, making an impact with little screen time).

And Like Crazy makes an impact, too. Drake Doremus' second feature, which debuted to acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, may be small in many ways but its emotional universe is real and affecting, thanks mostly to the two leads.

There's an easy chemistry between Jones and Yelchin. Apparently Doremus began with nothing but a 20-page outline which he relied upon his actors to help flesh out. They may not have the best of improvisational skills, but Jones and Yelchin make for a likeable and believable couple. There's an authentic intimacy between the two, made all the more powerful in the film's final scene which took my breath away.

Like Crazy may not be in quite the same league as those aforementioned films but nevertheless, it won -- and broke -- my heart.

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