Distance Makes The Heart Grow Like Crazy

Long distance relationships are awful. I understand this from personal experience, and as will you if you see the film Like Crazy.

Directed by newbie Drake Doremus, Like Crazy tells the story of Anna (Felicity Jones), a Brit studying abroad in LA. She meets Jacob, (the adorable and sulky Anton Yelchin), in an English class. The pair meet eyes across the classroom, read poetry, and generally bask in how intellectual and quirky each other are. The two fall in love. However, Anna gets a bit too comfortable in the perfectly indie, Paul Simon love nest that she and Jacob have made for themselves. The girl over-stays her visa and as a result, is banned from returning to the US to see Jacob. The ban complicates the transatlantic relationship and we must watch in painful clarity as Anna and Jacob negotiate the logistics of space and patience.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this modest and often shy love story is the quietness of Jones and Yelchin’s acting. With much of the scenes improvised, the film takes on a quality of startling realism, be it through the imperfect hair on Jacobs’ head, the quiet mumbles of Anna’s voice, or the shy, meaningful looks that the pair exchange through their inconsequential daily lives.

Certain aspects of the film’s gritty, unpolished aesthetic are slightly compromised with a few odd choices; Anna’s life in London as a junior editor at an unnamed fashion magazine seems straight from a British, dimly lit version of The Devil Wears Prada, while Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence makes an impressive performance as the entirely too good-looking to be real “other woman”. Similarly, Charlie Bewley stars as Jennifer Lawrence’s counterpart: a man, who looks entirely too much like a British J. Crew model, rivaling Jacob for Anna’s affections. The pair of blondes just don’t fit with the imperfections from the rest of the film.  The two of them look like they’ve never gotten bed-head a single day in their lives and perhaps have just come from shooting a commercial for designer perfume, or Bailey’s Irish Cream.

This film verges on the territory of what I like to call “Quirky, Wannabe-Arthouse Movies About Quirky, Wannabe-Arthouse Couples Falling in Love”, (see Garden State and 500 Days of Summer). Happily, the pair never have the “omg, you love the (insert indie band name here)? I love them too! Let’s go to a record store and then to a Chuck Taylor outlet.” Thankfully, there is also only one goodbye scene in an airport. I am very glad for this.

Like Crazy narrowly avoids this gauchely self-aware realm and posits itself in a sadly realistic space, one where first loves mark a person for life and the inconvenience and disorientation of it can derail.

Like Crazy won the Sundance Grand Jury Award and Felicity Jones won the Best Actress Special Jury Prize. This film is absolutely tailor-made for the film festival scene and I do hope it comes to Winnipeg eventually, as it is now in limited release.

As far as its Oscar future goes, I’m not feeling the love here. It’s a very strong film, but it is simply one that the Academy will most likely not appreciate. Felicity Jones is entirely deserving of a nod for her startlingly candid portrayal of Anna. I could see her pulling a Joseph Gordon-Levitt and getting a shocking Golden Globe nomination, but I just don’t see the Academy coming through for any nominations, for Jones or the film. Nevertheless, it is an exciting, painful, and often hard film to watch. When it was over, I felt like I did after watching Blue Valentine; I just needed a fist full of Xanax and for someone to tell me that the sun would come out tomorrow. Still, there is something to be said for a film that prompts such a strong reaction, one that had me questioning the scars of love lost.

Do you want to see “Like Crazy” when/if it comes to your city? Do you also like the (insert indie band name here)? Comment!

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