Like Crazy killed on the festival circuit – and a couple nights ago, it effectively killed ninety minutes of my life.
In an early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow Rosenberg excused some stupid behavior by saying, ‘Love makes you do the wacky.’ Throughout Like Crazy, that sentiment kept popping into my brain, though it almost always morphed into ‘Love makes do the stupid.’
Jacob [Anton Yelchin] finds a rambling note tucked under a windshield wiper on his car. It includes a phone number and a P.S. – ‘P.S. I’m not a nutcase.’ He calls the number, meets Anna [Felicity Jones] and the two of them spend the day together. By the end of the day, the two college students – she’s on a student visa from England – are madly in love.
The first act of the film follows them as they behave like people who have just fallen in love. Then – after acknowledging the possible consequences – she decides to stay after her visa expires. Two months later, she has to fly home and when she returns, she is not permitted back into the country because of her visa violation.
The rest of the film is about how she and Jacob try to make their long-distance relationship work – and the distractions that keep them occupied between visits. That would be Simon [Charlie Bewley] for her and Samantha [Jennifer Lawrence] for him. Both Simon and Samantha get to be part of excruciatingly painful scenes as they learn that their supposed partners are not as madly in love with them as they had hoped.
Like Crazy sets up like a standard romantic drama but veers of the road into a maze of stupid decisions and missteps. That Jacob and Anna are forcibly separated is not only a logical result of a stupid decision, it’s trumpeted as a selling point in the movie’s trailer. Love makes you do the wacky/stupid, indeed.
There are other decisions the couple make – like the substitute relationships and worse – that really feel plotted rather an organic evolution of the characters and story. The last two acts are rather grim to sit through – one man in the audience said afterwards, ‘I have teenagers. Why would I pay money to see this?’
In a sense – and in a Bizarro World kind of way – writer/director Drake Doremus gives us a take on the standard happy ending that might actually have been refreshing if the rest of the film hadn’t been so off-putting. It doesn’t help that he affects a meandering pace that doesn’t serve any of the characters well. And what is this thing he seems to have for Jones’ feet? They should have had their own credit!
Not only are Jacob and Anna not particularly likable, Yelchin and Jones have absolutely no chemistry. The result is that the pair are quite possibly the stupidest couple I have ever seen in a movie. We’re talking Love Story bad – and I know I walked out of the theater wishing she had died.
Just about the only fresh idea in the movie is that Jacob graduates college and becomes a furniture designer. Anna, sadly, is saddled with the stock blogger/writer/junior editor at a fashion magazine employment progression.
If it wasn’t for Anna’s parents, Bernard [Oliver Muirhead] and Julie [Alex Kingston], Like Crazy would be pretty lifeless. I’d pay to see a movie about those two but, alas, they’re only onscreen for about five minutes.
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Photo by Fred Hayes/courtesy Paramount Vantage & Indian Paintbrush