Saturday, February 9, 2013

Film Review: Like Crazy (2011)

Anna and Jacob meet in LA where they're both going to college, and they fall in love. The only problem is that Anna's from England. When she overstays her student visa and is barred from coming back to the US, they struggle with keeping their relationship alive across the distance.

The premise of this film is one I appreciated. As I'm gingerly stretching out into traveling I'm meeting great people. Keeping those connections alive, even if they aren't romantic in nature, can be challenging. A friend of mine is currently trying to make a transatlantic relationship work and I've been a sympathetic ear for her as much as possible; our friendship is also a slightly long distance one as she lives a few hours across the country from me. So the subject matter of this movie seemed relevant.
Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones play the two young leads. We watch them age believably from child-like students to adults developing careers and relationships. I've enjoyed both of these actors in previous roles, notably Yelchin in the new Star Trek movie and Jones in The Tempest and Northanger Abbey. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead appear as Anna's delightful parents who provide a sounding board for the couple's relationship.
In spite of a strong cast and intriguing premise, the film was a bit lackluster. I found it to be missing something emotionally. We keep being presented with evidence of the couple's love for each other through Anna's scrapbooks and Jacob's furniture making, but something doesn't connect.
It seems that the writers Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones wanted to bring realism into the scenes. The speech patterns sound like a transcript of everyday conversations (apparently using some improv on set) which resulted in conversations often lacking eloquence, full of awkward moments, and stammering. Combined with the sometimes random, choppy time lapses and montages, what ended up resonating with me most was the disconnect between the characters. Even when Jacob and Anna are in the same room together, they seem to be an ocean apart. There's something uncomfortable about much of their interaction.
When they're apart they seem to quickly fall in with other lovers, making me doubt their devotion to each other even more. Yet they display jealousy at the thought that the other might be seeing someone else as well. Perhaps that's why the ending of the film leaves us with some uncertainty, it isn't a brick wall happy ending, but it isn't entirely without hope. We're unsure of how they'll end up. I do have applaud the sophisticated, mature way it was ended without crushing or soothing us, showing the audience something a little more difficult, a little more real.
I wanted to like this film and it wasn't terrible, it just didn't strike me the way I had hoped. The romance it revolves around was hard to have faith in. I kept wondering why the characters didn't move on, if they were trying and force something more out of a youthful fling. It was first love, but maybe not permanent love.

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