AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 31, 2011
Director: Drake Doremus
Writers: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead
English girl meets American boy. English girl’s visa expires. United States immigration sucks. English girl and American boy struggle to maintain their intercontinental relationship. English girl and American boy begin their respective careers. English girl and American boy proceed with their lives — including more convenient relationships. English girl and American boy are still in crazy love with each other… What do they do?
In the hands of writer-director Drake Doremus (Douchebag) Like Crazy is not nearly as sappy and trite as we have come to expect from Hollywood romances. Doremus opts to leave out almost everything that a more traditional romance would have hit upon — their first kiss, sex scenes — and he dedicates his focus to the subtler, quieter moments in between. The scenes are stripped to their bare essentials, playing out like a slideshow of condensed and compressed scenarios from a relationship; while the passage of time is never overtly stated, the ever-ticking time bomb is made perfectly clear by the continuous evolution of technology (specifically cell phones).
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the narrative of Doremus’ film intercuts between the parallel lives of Anna (Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) as the couple grows farther and farther apart. With no backstory or expository dialogue, we learn about the characters solely by the choices that they make and the way they approach situations. For example: Jacob is quiet, introspective and observational; Anna is talkative, extrospective and demonstrative. Jacob constructs a chair for Anna to hold and comfort her, even whenever he his not around; while Anna writes poetry and constructs a scrapbook of their relationship to visualize and express her love for Jacob. Nonetheless, Anna and Jacob are both impetuous and passionate; one minute their love for each other seems infinite, and the next they are trying to find partners who are more conveniently located.
Like Crazy is about the immaturity and awkwardness of love; the crazy things that it makes us do and say; the way that love causes us to stop thinking logically. Anna and Jacob understand very little about the realities of the world, especially the ins and outs of visas and immigration. Love hypnotizes them into a zombie-like daze. They make plenty of poor choices and they do a lot of stupid things, but what makes Doremus’ film so special is the unbridled reality of their actions. As someone who has tried to navigate himself around far too many long-distance relationships (including an intercontinental one or two), plenty of the scenes play out exactly like scenes from my own memories. Will Like Crazy change U.S. immigration policies? Probably not. Will Like Crazy bring some tears to your eyes? Probably.