"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
- John Lennon
Young and blissful love was indeed a subject on everyone's mind at last year's Sundance Film Festival. The winner of the Grand Jury Prize provides the reason why, with a new romantic drama that says "I want you, I need you, I love you, I miss you … Like Crazy."
Anna (Felicity Jones) is young, bright and ambitious English graduate student in Los Angeles. Here she meets and is immediately attracted to Jacob (Anton Yelchin) who's training to be a furniture designer. Anna captures his heart and they quickly fall in love. We see their initial dating life unfold with sweet innocence and grace.
She decides to stay with Jacob over the summer, violating her Student Visa, so when she goes back home for a wedding then tries to return to Jacob, she is denied entry to the United States. Jacob and Anna must now endure a long-distance relationship in which their love and longing for each other is put to the test. As they try to move on with their lives, they find themselves coming back to each other over and over again in the hope that things will work out.
Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones)
First-time director Drake Doremus does a fine job of handling a seemingly basic love story with simplicity and utter realism. This film manages to transcend all conventions of the Hollywood version of a romantic drama and instead becomes a deeply touching and emotional journey of strength and patience. The two central performances are magnificent and should bring a tear to your eye at least once in its very modest 90-minute running time.
Two integral components add to the story's realism; the handheld docu-drama camera work, and the fact that much of the dialogue is improvised, with only detailed scene breakdowns for the actors to work and develop from. The handheld camera technique, while irritating in many other films, is scarcely an issue here. It is controlled and voyeuristic, giving the audience a sort of nosey disposition.
Doremus supposedly based this story on his own experience falling in love at a young age, and with that as an inspiration he has truly accomplished his goal of telling a real story about real people. To make the film a private affair in more ways than one, the director's ex-wife has publicly scorned the movie, extremely displeased at him for using their story as the basis of a feature film. Now that has to say something about the sensitivity and veracity of the material.
Like Crazy is a heart-felt tear-jerker of a drama that explores young love in all its qualities and flaws. With wonderful lead performances and a documentary-like approach to a supposed private story, it is well-deserving of its achievements at the Sundance Film Festival last year.
Eat your heart out, Hollywood; THIS is a love story.