By Gary Murray
Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence
Written by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones
Directed by Drake Doremus
Running time 97 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
More and more, I’m beginning to see the death throws of the romantic film. It seems every year that the flicks meant to generate the warm fuzzy feelings are becoming pedestrian. The latest to take the independent track is the weak Like Crazy.
The film starts out in college in LA where Anna (Felicity Jones) is here from the UK on a student visa. She meets Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and the two begin dating. She plans on being a writer and he wants to design furniture.
After a semester of dating, they realize that they are soul mates. She ignores the restrictions of her student visa and stays over the summer. She finally makes it back to England. Later when she tries to re-enter the USA, she is denied because she violated the law. Even though she is just coming here as a tourist, the government sends her back to England.
The rest of the film is about the long distance relationship between these two young lovers, him coming to visit in the UK while she works every angle to get back on US soil. They even get married to expedite the process. The ups and down of the relationship are shown, warts and all. They also have problems with the long distance and cheat on each other. Jacob takes up with his assistant in the shop Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence), a typical California girl.
The film doesn’t really build to anything as much as it just ends. The finish of Like Crazy is an exercise in frustration.
As much as I didn’t care for the film, the two female leads were just wonderful. Felicity Jones just oozes charm. While not a classic beauty, she has this inner light that pulls one in. Much can be said for the poorly used Jennifer Lawrence as Samantha. She is the other woman who isn’t much competition, more of a bed partner than a soul mate. At times she almost feels like an afterthought in the film, more of a plot point than a defined character.
Anton Yelchin was—in a word—weak. His character has nothing, no spark and no heat. One wonders why these stunning women would be attracted to this milquetoast man. He doesn’t bring anything to his reading of Jacob. It is a questioning performance and that question is ‘What?’
The other problem with Like Crazy is that one has a hard time feeling any sympathies for any of the characters in the story. She knew the ramifications of overstaying her visa and ignored the penalties for a few months of frolic. He could easily move his furniture business to the UK to be with her. In this era of world-wide shipping, it makes no sense that he has to be in LA to hone his craft of making really ugly chairs.
The other major problem is a sense of overcoming the impossible. For two people so in love they both sure seem to fall in bed with others quickly. At one point they are both married yet dating others. In the telling of the tale, the two have been separated for six months. Six months and both have gone to other partners. Just seems a bit farfetched.
Like Crazy is one of those films that the independent crowd revels over, thinking it makes some kind of statement about the human experience. I found the film a bit trite and unfulfilling. Director and co-writer Drake Doremus has some great cast members to work with, he just doesn’t give them anything to work with.