Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LIKE CRAZY (2011)

Written by Ben York James & Drake Doremus


Directed by Drake Doremus


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. November 1, 2011 5:30PM


Do you recall the first time you saw someone across the room, your eyes meet, sparks fly and there is some sort of sense of a deep, magical connection from just that initial encounter? The romantic drama, "Like Crazy" attempts to recreate that special moment but the results end up being uneven and not exactly as moving and thrilling as you might like to remember.

Anton Yelchin plays Jacob, a cute young man attending college in Los Angeles who wants to design furniture. Felicity Jones is Anna, a pretty, British young lady who is attending the same college to become a writer. They notice each other in class but barely speak so, Anna boldly leaves a note on Jacob's car asking him out on a date. Intrigued and certainly attracted to her, Jacob accepts her offer. The two connect almost immediately as we see the romance blossoming through a series of dates and intimate moments.

Anna's student visa expires at the end of the school year which means she is supposed to return home but now she's hopelessly in love with Jacob and can't bear the thought of leaving him. After a romantic, farewell getaway to Catalina Island, she decides to stay throughout the summer to spend more time with the man she loves.

Anna later returns home to England with the intention of returning quickly as a tourist. However, a complication arises when she arrives in Los Angeles and she is denied entry because of her previous visa violation. Jacob and Anna try to maintain their relationship long-distance for a while but the difficulties of the time-difference, jealousy and frustration causes the couple to separate.

Jacob starts a successful design business and begins to date his employee (Jennifer Lawrence) while Anna works writing for an Internet blog as she goes out with her handsome neighbor (Charlie Bewley) but their feelings for each other never change. They soon reconnect with Jacob visiting England and Anna's family hiring an immigration lawyer to help untangle the legal matter but will this couple be able to survive the stress and strain of trying to hang on in order to keep their love alive?

"Like Crazy" has received plenty of critical praise and has won several awards including the Best Actress and Best Film Grand Jury Prizes at last year's Sundance Film Festival but I just don't get it. There is strong camera work by cinematographer, John Guleserian and the performances are well done but I didn't see anything particularly special or inspiring about this film to get so worked-up about.

Now, I realize it has been many, many years since I've been caught-up in the throws of young love and perhaps my memory is now just a bit foggy but I can't imagine it ever being this emotionally flat and uninteresting. There have been a large number of films that have documented the incredible highs and terrible lows of falling in love so we need to see something that strongly takes on a creative or inventive variation of this theme as much as possible and "Like Crazy", while it is a well-made, is lacking in that area. The apparently fresh idea that the major obstacles standing in the way of their happiness is their different nationalities and bad judgement is pretty thin and less than engaging.

Director, Drake Doremus and co-writer, Ben York James put together a sixty page outline with the lead actors improvising much of the screenplay and while the two young actors are able to bring some realism to their characters but with Yelchin at only the age of twenty-two and Jones at twenty-seven, there isn't a lot of life experience to be able to add compelling and meaningful dialogue.

Despite the efforts of a talented cast and crew, "Like Crazy" never rises above a fairly, standard love story and with a running time of only ninety minutes, feels over-extended and tedious.