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A Heartfelt and Absorbing Love Story
9/10 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.5 years ago
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.
9/10 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.5 years ago
Emotionally devastating, yet equally just as deeply romantic
9/10 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.5 years ago
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 cinema verite, 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.
5/10 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.5 years ago
"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.
A relatable love story
10/10 "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.)5 years ago
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.