It’s rare to encounter an on-screen couple that exudes the same vibrant passion audiences may expect from a real couple in love, yet the actors in Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” depict a modern story that feels as real as a documentary.
Expert acting and intuitive cinematography create a moving story focused on the constant strain in long-distance relationships.
Anna (Felicity Jones), a British student in Los Angeles, falls in love with Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American, after taking a class with him. Their romance is beautiful and delicate until she foolishly decides to overstay her visa after they graduate, thus plummeting the couple into a long-distance, on-and-off relationship that spans several years.
Charming and attractive, Jones and Yelchin are impressively natural in roles unlike any they have played before. The two radiate youthful innocence and certainty throughout the film. There is nothing extraordinary about the way they fall in love — the film’s focus is instead on the beauty in the quiet moments they share. Many of the scenes have no dialogue. In one, the two stare at each other in amazement and write notes back and forth in a notebook rather than speaking. Their movements seem instinctive, adeptly revealing their addiction to each other and the constant ache and anxiety they feel when they are thrust apart.
The handheld camera style contributes to the natural feel of the movie, helping the film feel well-paced despite its compression of several years. Shortly after they meet, Doremus offers a breezy montage where the lovers wander Los Angeles, clinging to each other and laughing in the most convincing, heartbreaking way. The camera mimics their swaying movements, and the occasional jump cut allows the audience to focus on key moments and facial expressions. When they are in different countries, the scenes are set in more contrasting open, public spaces where Anna and Jacob often appear uncomfortable — their deflated voices in their phone tag voicemails serving cleverly as audio.
Though viewers aren’t provided with a great deal of backstory for either character, the intense “here and now” of Anna and Jacob’s lives during the course of their relationship is enough to make audiences ache for them. “Like Crazy” beautifully captures the tension in wanting deeply, yet not knowing how to fully attain that love.
“Like Crazy” was directed by Drake Doremus, and written by Doremus and Ben York Jones.
4 out of 4 stars.