Sundance Review: “Like Crazy”

4 REV Like Crazy

Convincing performances and understated storytelling help this tale of young love stand out.

Bruisingly bittersweet and made with tenderness that suggests personal significance, Like Crazy chronicles a young love so deep it doesn’t die, even when perhaps it should.

Its elliptical construction and avoidance of melodrama might disqualify it for mainstream audiences, but the film’s undeniable beauty shouldn’t be a tough sell to moviegoers who can take some pain (as opposed to contrived rom-com obstacles) with their romance.

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones play Jacob and Anna, L.A. college students who fall for each other shortly before Anna is to return to her native London. Their first encounters are almost impossibly sweet. Jacob asks, “What are we going to do after graduation?” and they struggle nobly against the inevitable. Sadly, their determination worsens things: Anna decides to overstay her visa, meaning that when she goes home for a family visit, she’s not allowed back. Their relationship becomes an on-again, off-again long-distance affair.

The movie steps across months without transition, moving from blissful reunions to periods when each is seeing someone else and back again. Transcontinental text messages from one dampen the other’s budding new relationship; pleas and plots to make things work nourish unwarranted optimism.

Throughout, the filmmakers and cast refuse to make thorny emotions hyperbolic. Jealous questions are inevitable when the two reunite after months apart, but (initially, at least) they are underplayed, with just enough said to create invisible layers between them.

Director Drake Doremus and co-writer Ben York Jones (star of Doremus’ Douchebag) slice out nearly all of the arguments and painful decisions that move the lovers from one stage to another, creating a vast distance between the two, whose development feels remarkably gradual given the picture’s slim running time.

Crazy ends ambiguously, as it should, suggesting that even if the two never contact each other again, it will be a long time before this love fades completely.

U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Drake Doremus
Screenwriters: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston
Producers: Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling
No rating, 89 minutes