Dir: Drake Doremus
Stars: Felicity Jones, Amton Yelchin & Jennifer Lawrence
If I’m being absolutely honest, I’m not a big fan of Hollywood Rom-Coms. I find them mostly to be too slick and generally devoid of any realism. The dialogue and plot are generally to perfect and unlikely, often containing scenarios which would make a stalker proud. If you were to act out some of them on the mean streets of Sheffield, the end result would most likely be a restraining order. Thankfully, Like Crazy is a completely different kettle of fish.
British girl Anna (Jones) meets America Jacob (Yelchin) whilst they are both studying at college in Los Angeles. They fall head over heels in love, but their problems begin when Anna’s visa runs out. Struggling to maintain their relationship on different sides of the Atlantic, the pair must live with the problems of being together whilst being apart. When Sam (Lawrence) enters Jacob’s life this gets a lot more complicated.
What is so remarkable about this film is how steeped in realism it is. Drake Doremus pitches the film as an off-kilter indie romance; very understated, unassuming and unpretentious. The giddy heights of young love are captured superbly as are the strains, stresses, guilt and trauma of separation. The first date is wonderfully done, filmed using different camera techniques and angles, it allows the audience to witness their subtle interactions; we even get Jones’ best “crazy face”! Doremus allowed the actors a certain degree of improvisation and creative freedom, which Jones in particular thrives upon. This is her finest hour, in what is a fledgling film career that shows great promise. She appears to have everything going for her, stardom will no doubt follow. Yelchin (who at times you could be forgiven for mistaking him for a stretch-Frodo) is also very good. There is a genuine chemistry between them, with the subtleties and nervousness of first love being superbly captured.
The comedy is subtle with Anna’s parents, played wonderfully be Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead, adding many of the comedy elements. Like Crazy is an offbeat, subtle and emotional gem of a film which deservedly won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for Best Picture and Best Actress. Don’t be put off by the Rom-Com tag, there is much to enjoy for any lover of independent films.