Taking a similar cue from last year’s superb Blue Valentine, this heavily improvised romance follows a pair of young lovers as they meet in their final year of college. Instead of shifting back and forth between the past and present, Like Crazy takes us on the roller coaster of our two lovebirds’ relationship as they try and stay together. The reason this becomes so hard is due to the girl, Anna, being from England and her visa issues won’t allow her to return to her boy, Jacob, back in L.A. after she graduates from college. As the film unfolds we see some ups and downs over a few years time and I found it hard to believe or hope they would get together in the end.
Let’s get the positives out there first. The film is superbly edited and the way the film moves things along is to be commended. The way the director, Drake Doremus, conveys passage of time in the film is both cool and very affective and while I didn’t really like the film, I will always remember some of the awesome transitions this film throws at us; the bedroom montage in particular was particularly impressive. The music, both the score and the soundtrack, we’re excellent and I would totally buy them both even with my disdain for the film itself.
The acting in the film can’t be faulted either for the cast is quite good in all the principal roles. Felicity Jones in particular bursts on to the scene as the undeniably cute Anna and will make more than this boy swoon. She does a fantastic job and brings a sincere heart and realism to the proceedings, creating a believable character that feels lived in with real relationships. Jones works better off her parent characters then she does her co-star Anton Yelchin, though the two do have a decent vibe in certain scenes. I think my lack of believability in the two’s relationship was only a partial issue with my problems with the picture, but it certainly doesn’t help. Yelchin’s acting is a solid performance, but his character is such a dirt bag I couldn’t really cheer for this “cute couple” to get back together.
It also could be argued that this film is disrespectful to women and on top of that almost acts as a male fantasy for the Jacob character. (Spoilers) On the disrespectful front, neither of the girls in Jacob’s life, Anna and Sam (Jennifer Lawrence), makes any decisions for themselves and we are only really shown that they care about their romantic lives. All they girls really seem to live for is a man, Sam especially, and they have no depth to their characters. Anna does have a successful job, but she throws that away for this boy who has ran off to Sam on multiple occasions after minor skirmishes with Anna. I mean, Anna and Jacob get married and he is cheating on Anna when he goes back to the U.S. while they wait the six months before they can apply for a marriage visa. It’s disgusting and I can’t imagine why anyone would want Anna, or Sam, to end up with Jacob; he is a sleaze ball.
When it comes to the male fantasy, the film revolves around a moderately attractive guy who gets not only two gorgeous women, but he is also able to cheat, destroy, and betray both of them and they still come running back to him when he comes calling; please. Plus, both girls just drop everything in their lives for this guy who never makes any concessions for either of them. He never once offers to move to England for Anna as she does everything she can to try and get to the U.S., who would put up with this? The film is a terrible portrayal of modern women and makes girls out to be nothing more than boy crazy zombies who will get walked all over if it means they have a man.
I mentioned Jennifer Lawrence being in the film as Sam and she is about as criminally underused as her character. Lawrence really shines with the next to nothing she has to go on, getting us to care about Sam even with her very little screen time. Though, Jacob is such an asshole to her, it is hard not to be sympathetic.
The film’s other major issue is that the main struggle/drama, and most thereafter, are predicated on the characters acting like complete idiots. From Anna violating her visa, Jacob leaving his phone out, or the film completely trashing a great relationship between Anna and Simon because he pops the question after six months, characters make a lot of dumb moves in this film. The dinner scene where this happens was terrible all around as Anna’s parents give these disapproving looks of Simon for being a really great guy and doing absolutely nothing wrong. The same can be said for Sam who is trashed over and over again for no reason. I don’t understand how it is acceptable to trash good people for the sake of some supposed “great romance” in films nowadays.
In the end, Like Crazy is a mess of a film. The film is technically impressive, but it is showcasing a terrible story that doesn’t engage in the slightest. The male lead, Jacob, is a terrible person and I have no idea why I should be rooting for these two lovers to rekindle after he continually fails them. Regardless, I look forward to Doremus’ next film as he has some technical chops to spare; it is just a shame you have to endure this mess to see them.
Like Crazy is a D (solely on its technical merits making the film somewhat watchable)