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Just saw it at the Sundance Film Festival here in Park City, Utah.'Like
Crazy' is a love story about the ups and the downs, the euphoria, the
heartache, and the sacrifices. For those who don't know the plot,
basically a British student, Anna, falls for Jacob, an American
student. They fall for each other right away, and spend the summer
together. However, she violates the stay of her student visa, and when
she tries to return to L.A., she is denied. Thus, our two lovers are
separated by distance and multiple levels of bureaucracy that prove to
be most unfair. Can they make it work, and should they? Some have
compared it to '500 Days of Summer,' and there are a few similarities.
The major difference is the lack of any unique narrative devices and
that it is, in fact, a love story. First and foremost, let me say that
Felicity Jones as Anna is a revelation. She owns the screen and was
utterly charming and devastatingly beautiful. There's a scene in the
first 10 minutes after they spend their first evening together, and
they sit on her bed, and a sense of tension but young awkwardness that
fills the room. When the conversation falters out, she gives him a look
that was filled with such delicate longing; fueled by the power of
young love and the possibilities before them. It was in this moment
that Anna, and Felicity, won me over. The chemistry between her and her
co-star Anton was realistic and powerful. Much of the film was
improvised; the director said he would often leave the camera rolling
for twenty to thirty minutes at a time just to capture them together.
It shows. I felt myself hoping and wishing for them to work it all out,
to end up together.
The music is fantastic. It provides the heartbeat to the film and is a wonderful compliment. It's well edited - the film ultimately takes place over what seems to be a couple of years. Unlike early versions of the film, title cards have been removed and a series of jump cuts progresses the time. You have to pay close attention at times to have a firm grasp on the passage of time. There are moments when they are happy and together that are so iconic. Walking the streets of London, at times they looked like the cover of a Bob Dylan cover. Quick cuts of them together whether in LA or London are quite beautiful.
This film was obviously made based on real experiences, and the filmmakers admitted that it was the combination of many of their experiences. It's a realistic film. Things aren't easy. You will smile and laugh and other times feel just as much despair as our characters. There are no easy answers in this film, and your ultimate interpretation and perhaps enjoyment of the film depends on what you bring to the table, and your feelings on love, and just how much you believe in it. This film should make Felicity Jones a star in the way that 'An Education' benefited Carey Mulligan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am still trying to play catch up with my reviews from this year's
past Toronto International Film Festival, but have found myself at a
total loss for words when I try to write out my thoughts on Like Crazy.
It was a movie I was excited to see ever since I heard the buzz at
Sundance, and one I had high hopes for. Sure enough, I was left reeling
after my screening, choking back the desire to weep for Jacob (Anton
Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), a couple so deeply and madly in
love who are held back from being together because of immigration laws.
It is one of the most emotional experiences I have had at the movies in
ages, and one that is not bound to leave me any time soon.
Like Crazy is a bit unconventional when compared to other romantic dramas. Instead of seeing the whole story of Jacob and Anna's romance from the beginning, co-writer/director Drake Doremus only gives us moments, glimpses and mere blips along the way. He frames it in a nostalgic sense, as if the pair is reminiscing about their favourite or most important memories years later. We are not privy to their most personal moments like their first kiss or their first sexual encounter. But we are allowed to see how they lived their lives together, how they live them apart, and how they intersect and meet up with each other over a five year period. Doremus never gives us the full picture of what has and has not happened; he merely offers only fragments of these characters' lives. And at just under 90-minutes, there are only so many fragments that can be offered. This may infuriate some viewers, but it provides for a captivating experience that feels more authentic and genuine than most romances that have come before it.
What is also unique is how Doremus films this heartbreaking romance. He uses many intimate and candid close-ups to help convey the joy and anguish in our couple's faces. He never shies away from allowing Yelchin and Jones to reveal their emotions, hovering uncomfortably on their tear soaked faces more often than you may imagine. He also employs the use of the shaky cam style of filmmaking, effectively furthering the notion of the film being told from a nostalgic point-of-view. In some sense, it almost looks as if someone is trying to keep up and capture these moments as they happen. It borders on resembling cinéma vérité, but not quite as pronounced or blatant. Doremus maintains a dreamlike, hazy quality to the earlier scenes, and then brings in a grittier, starker tone to the later scenes. It makes for an interesting viewing experience, because as the actions are toying with your emotions, so too is the look and appearance of the film.
Yelchin and Jones are simply above and beyond fantastic in their roles. While Yelchin proves he is a talent to continue to watch, Jones is quite simply a breakthrough. Together or apart, both actors breathe life into their characters, allowing them a depth that transcends everything Doremus allows the audience to see. We only get hints at things, but their performances make us feel like we know everything there is to know about them. These characters are very lived in, and feel incredibly natural and real from the moment Anna walks into Jacob's life, until the end credits roll. You feel their every pain, their every heartache, their every joy and their every sorrow. Their chemistry practically smoulders on-screen, making their devastating romance that much harder to take in. By the end of the film, you feel like you really know this couple on a level where they could actually exist. The power and strength of both of their performances is simply unfathomable and is something that cannot be easily replicated.
Supporting turns from Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna's parents, Charlie Bewley and an especially low-key Jennifer Lawrence are all very well done. I will not reveal how Bewley and Lawrence factor into the story, but suffice to say, they help pull some incredibly emotional gut punches along the way. None of these characters are particularly well developed, but then, the film's pacing and structure never affords them any chance for an immense amount of depth. But it does give them the chance to shine in a few brief moments, as well as work off of Yelchin and Jones increasingly well. Both actors easily overshadow everyone they appear beside at all times, but nonetheless, these supporting players help maintain the realism the film strives for, and help even further to move the film ahead through some of its more twisty scenes.
I keep struggling to come up with more words and ideas to further describe how exceptional Like Crazy is, but there are not enough phrases to truly explain it. It is quite simply, the kind of emotionally resonant film that does not comes around nearly enough. Anyone who has ever been in love or who has suffered the unbearable pain of heartbreak will find a bit of themselves in these characters. The indie nature of the film may steer viewers away, but it only helps to preserve the story and the tone. While it can be incredibly devastating to watch, Like Crazy is equally just as deeply romantic. You may need to find time to prepare yourself before you watch it, but you will not regret the decision.
This film was beautiful. I saw it at the Sundance Film Festival and fell in love with it Like Crazy. Everything from the acting, to the cinematography, to the story line was amazing. And to think it was shot on the Canon 7D is incredible. I saw 14 films at Sundance and this was my favorite film in the festival. During the Q&A after the film the director made it clear that this film is about the true story of his own relationship with a girl. I would recommend this film to people who have experienced a long distant relationship and to teenage/young adult audiences. This film is the Winner of the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. I think it deserved this prize. This film made me feel all sorts of different emotions. This film really is a beautiful story and I am excited to see it coming out in theaters.
"Like Crazy" was my favorite movie at the Sundance Film Festival this
year. It is a love story that I think many people can relate to. (I
LOVE Arthur Hiller's "Love Story" and can relate to much of it,
although most relationships don't end so tragically.)
I'm guessing that many of the people that didn't enjoy "Like Crazy" never experienced the beauty of young love, or the heartache it causes when you're forced into a long distance relationship. Or maybe they didn't like it because they only enjoy movies with cars exploding and lots of automatic gunfire. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but at least fess up in your reviews and say you'd rather be watching an action flick.
If you're not in the above categories, I recommend watching this film with your significant other. All of the actors are a delight to watch; they are natural and absolutely in the moment - no forced acting whatsoever. According to the director, they had a very limited script, basically just situations for each scene; so they used intuition with their characters and the dialogue. It's been a long time since I've seen a film with such real chemistry between characters, but this one has it.
As the movie's title suggest, I truly wanted to fall in crazy love with
"Like Crazy". By the end, I instead just gave it a pat on the shoulder
and became more interested in what the stars and director would be
doing after the movie than in the film that just screened. In a movie
about the complications that ensue when an American guy named Jacob and
a British girl named Anna meet in college, fall in love and then
eventually are separated when the latter is denied entry back into the
US after overstaying her visa, it's never as compelling as it very well
should have been.
"Like Crazy", a big hit at the Sundance film festival, is well-made and has some scenes of heartbreaking immediacy that give it considerable promise. Unfortunately it only shines through it's individual moments, but as a whole it lacks a certain emotional center as the main romantic pairing, played by Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, is just not convincing.
Not for lack of trying. Director Drake Doremus has certainly made a lovely film out of a very small budget, and again proves (after his first film Douchebag) that he has a way of coaxing some nuanced performances out of familiar character archetypes. It's refreshing to see a movie where people don't always know the perfect thing to say and end up saying what they actually feel, or feeling unable to say anything at all. And his understated mis-en-scene and on-the-cheap cinematography is quite impressive, bringing a very cinematic atmosphere to "Like Crazy" despite the film's modest means.
For the central pairing, Jones (a distinctly lovely actress with a remarkably subtle face and physical acting style) in particular brings a fascinating duality to her character of Anna: she can feel both warm and reserved, naive but very intelligent and observant. Jones slowly melds what could initially seem like a contradiction into a very real, imperfect human character that you can't quite understand but you can feel remarkably close to, and it's easy to see how someone could be very drawn to her. Anton Yelchin, as Jacob, has the much harder task: his Jacob has an almost too-passive interest in this love affair, but while the character on the page might be too much of a cipher, Yelchin has a clever acting style that suggests there's more to Jacob than meets the eye.
And there's no questioning that "Like Crazy" is a consistiently engaging and intriguing experience. There's just a big problem when the central romance in an in-and-out-of-love story is the weakest part of film. Their relationship ultimately feels completely tied to plot, with no real sense that it would exist off camera. We become interested in Jacob and Anna individually, but never as a couple.
Jacob seems rather unwilling to uproot his life to be with her, or even borrow money from her parents so he can stay the post-graduation summer in England, and it is a bit baffling to wonder how someone as smart (or supposedly smart) as Anna would be willing to overlook his slowly growing indifference and find out far too late that their romance is dying.
There's a bit of suspense later on, as both Jacob and Anna get romantically tempted by someone close to them (by Jennifer Lawerence and Charlie Bewley, respectively), but that plot devolpment ultimately feels as superficial and mechanical as the movie's main immigration predicament. It's more an affirtmation of Lawrence's considerable talents as an actress that she takes a role as contrived as this and ends up making the audience truly feel her heartbreak. Though it's a big problem when we're more torn up over the affair rather than the movie's main romance.
It's not that there isn't a sense of real care and affection between Jacob and Anna, but the movie just doesn't take enough time to let us figure out exactly what exists between the two. It seems like while Anna may be in crazy stupid love, Jacob seems to see it as a passionate summer fling but nothing to change his life for. You end up wishing they would just move on and live their lives rather than root for them to make it through their immigration-complicated struggle, as the feelings just do not seem to be reciprocated. The disintegration of their relationship feels more expected and, frankly, welcome than it is heartbreaking.
Perhaps what's hindering the central romance is that the movie is far too hurried and uneven that it doesn't really have time to show a substantive, organic growth of Anna and Jacob's relationship. The early scenes of Jacob and Anna's romance are far too brief (with an excessive fondness of montages and quick scene cuts) and far too much screen time is spent after Anna's banned from the US that "Crazy" never really has time to breathe. There's never any time to truly reveal what would make these two would-be romantics not only connect but fall passionately in love with each other. Surely it's more than a mutual love for Paul Simon's "Graceland" or rides in go-karts (yep, that's in the movie too).
Perhaps it's a compliment to say that the film should've been a bit longer, but it also means we're left needing more. The movie does have a potentially terrific ending, but too bad the charming but uncogent scenes before make it an afterthought rather than something more potent and emotional. That makes the whole experience just all the more tantalizing and disappointing. We haven't fallen in love with "Like Crazy", we're just enamored with what could've been.
Don't let it's indie roots fool you. Like Crazy is a nostalgic love
story of people who know what they want but don't know how to get it.
The acting is superb. Yelchin and Jones have chemistry and they play it across the board. You will smile, laugh, cry, and hold your breath as these two characters waltz in and out of each others' lives. Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley also deliver great performances.
The thing that sets Like Crazy apart is the fact that it doesn't try to be anything than an honest love story. It doesn't play up stereotypes. It doesn't beat out the indie clichés. The dialogue is naturally paced and feels richly authentic. The subtext is dramatic.
This film is worth every dollar and dime in my mind. If you get the chance, go see it. Take friends who want to share the fun of a good film.
Like Crazy is a fantastic watch and a fresh take on everything you thought you knew about indie romance.
This is a love story that was quite interesting to me, because the
parts that didn't work were the parts dealing with the actual love.
Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin were both excellent on their own,
burning with pain while trying to move on with their life and just
exist with this hole inside of them. However it was when they were
together that the film lost it's appeal for me. I couldn't feel any
chemistry between them, so I had no stake in a large majority of it
because I didn't understand why they wanted to be together. Even with
their first meeting they seemed so dour together, I never once felt any
genuine love there.
The conversations between them were good and honest, albeit typical, and the fact that they improvised a lot of their dialogue makes it more impressive. Unfortunately the premise hinges on an event that I couldn't realistically buy for a second so any sadness the characters felt didn't have enough of an impact on me because there was always this looming anger towards them for being so dumb and getting themselves in this situation. The ending is a smart move, but it's also a pretty straight Graduate rip-off, so I can't commend it too much.
I'm harping a lot on the things that I didn't like about the film, but I think ultimately there were more positives than negatives for me. The actors really shined individually, even if they didn't sell the core relationship for me, and quite a few of their separate scenes gave me an emotional reaction, albeit not to the extreme that they should have hit me. So I'm pretty lukewarm on it overall, but I at least admired the acting.
Beautiful editing, beautiful photography, talented actors and yet still
somehow this ends up being a boring film, about boring people, who do
nothing but mooching and sulking.
The director is trying to attain that edgy Mike Leigh, Ken Loach feel, but fails miserably and the result is like watching an edited collection of drama school workshops.
Perhaps they should have spent some time coming up with an actual story line? they have a beginning, but nothing happens in the middle, and you only know that it's over because the credits roll.
Sundance you have lost your way this time!
It's so refreshing to see that really good movies can still be made once in a while. The Philadelphia Film Festival began this past week and chose a great movie to open with: Like Crazy. It won the Grand Jury Prize for best film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and deservedly so. It stars Anton Yelchin, one of those names you may not know but whose face you've probably seen before. He plays Jacob. The other star of the film is Felicity Jones, who won't have as recognizable of a face as she has mainly made movies only in England. She plays Anna. Jacob and Anna meet early in the film while attending the same college. There's an immediate attraction and they instantly hit it off. It's not long before we see how madly in love they fall for each other. It's the kind of love that most people only see in movies and never get to experience for themselves. In fact, they seem so in love and happy together at such an early stage of the film that you wonder where the movie is going from there. Well of course nothing's ever as perfect as it seems, and a big hurdle comes along that stands in their way of complete happiness. Anna is not an American citizen after all. She was attending college in the U.S. but still lives in England. So when she overstays her visa, she finds herself banned from the country. Why did she overstay her welcome? She did it to be with Jacob, of course. When someone is truly in love, they will often do anything they can to be with that person; but they sometimes forget about the consequences of those actions. At this point, the two lovebirds must decide on whether to maintain the new long distance relationship. It's not just any long distance relationship of course, it's an overseas relationship. That's a situation which is pretty tough for just about any couple to pull off. So the movie then shifts its tone to one of compromise and struggle. How much can one person sacrifice for the other? Can they somehow lift the ban, or will Jacob have to move to England thus leaving his current job in the U.S.? Is it all even worth it after it's all said and done? Many questions arise, not to mention the possibility of finding new love in their own respectable countries with someone else. It's a great film dealing with human emotions and how far we will go for another person. The two actors pour their hearts out on screen and it can be mesmerizing at times. Like Crazy opens nationwide on October 28. It's an independent film though so it will surely be shown in limited release, but find it if you can.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a level of genuine intimacy generated by the two actors,
Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin (Chekhov in the "Star Trek" reboot),
playing the young lovers in this low-key, low-budget 2011 indie
romantic drama directed and co-written by Drake Doremus. Apparently, he
and co-scenarist Ben York Jones wrote a fifty-page outline for the
movie and allowed the actors to flesh out the story by having them
improvise most of their lines. The net result is a level of naturalness
achieved in their performances that comes across without contrivance,
no small feat given how predictable most love-at-first-sight movies can
be. However, there is a nagging conventionality and a relative
imbalance to the love story that makes the film fall short of its
emotional objective with this viewer.
Yelchin and Jones play Jacob and Anna, senior-year college students in LA who fall in love shortly before the latter is to return to her native London. Naturally, there is a meet-cute set-up that leads to a hesitant first date that leads them headlong into unbridled romance. So smitten are they with each other that Anna overstays her student visa and doesn't return home on schedule. When she tries to return to LA, she is detained by immigration officials and forced to go home. What occurs is a long-distance relationship hampered by their separate burgeoning careers (she becomes a magazine writer/blogger, he a furniture designer), the fragility of love, and the fear of commitment. Their hopeless naiveté in a post-9/11 world is a plot device that forces each of them to decide what they are willing to do to invest in their relationship.
It is at this point that each seems to divert since Anna is willing to make all the hard choices whereas Jacob appears comparatively passive in his commitment. Perhaps it would have been excessive (and maybe a bit boring) to have both lovers follow their hearts in equal proportion, but the gap does undermine what would have made the relationship more compelling to witness beyond the standard romantic montages and overtures seen in like-minded films ("The Notebook", for example). While both lead actors are affecting and perceptive in their respective roles, the charismatic Jones has the advantage of playing a character that is far more transparent in her motivations. Yelchin is saddled with the more elliptical role where we are left to guess how far he is willing to commit.
Compelling in just a few scenes as Jacob's comely assistant Sam, Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") is the inevitable temptation in his path, while Charlie Bewley makes less of an impression as Anna's neighbor Simon. Familiar TV actors Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead play Anna's supportive parents with measured gusto, while another familiar small-screen face, Finola Hughes ("General Hospital"), nicely plays Anna's boss. Framed by John Guleserian's hand-held digital camera-work, the film benefits from the incisive way Doremus staged several of the key scenes, especially the ones that highlight the intermittent disconnects between the lovers, and the young filmmaker shrewdly provides an ambiguous ending allowing viewers to fill in the blanks with the future of Jacob's and Anna's relationship. Nonetheless, the film just didn't leave an indelible impression on me.
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