Monday, 30 January 2012

LIKE CRAZY review

Starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, the transatlantic love story Like Crazy is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Anna and Jacob are two young lovers who meet and fall in love whilst studying in New York City. But when international student Anna breaks the terms of her visa and stays with Jacob rather than return to the UK, she is deported by the authorities and banned from re-entering the country. Trying their best to make a long distance relationship work, Anna and Jacob still find it a strain to balance their love life with their flourishing careers and social lives.


The winner of the Grand Jury prize and Best Actress prize at last year's Sundance film festival, Like Crazy arrives with a palpable amount of festival buzz. Telling the intimate story of the ups and downs of a very real relationship, it's a film that lives and dies by the performances of its two leads, the extremely likable Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. Using handheld camerawork that rarely allows them to escape from close-up, Like Crazy keeps us close to the central relationship. Directed by 28 year old Drake Doremus, the most impressive element of Like Crazy is the two lead performances. Responsible for their own naturalistic dialogue, Yelchin and Jones are thoroughly believable as the headstrong lovers enjoying every second they spend together, along with all the petty squabbles and difficult situations that slowly chip away at the picture perfect romance.

Having spoken to female friends who've seen the film, there may be gender divide over the opinion of Jones's character, Anna. She's almost distractingly beautiful and charming, but perhaps too reckless in her romantic ideals. Personally I found her to be equal measures adorable and infuriating, and was willing to put her more foolish actions down to her youth. Not that she's ever anything but a wholly believable character, but she follows her heart rather than her head. Her friends and family are sympathetic to her situation to a fault, and seem to want to help her out of their belief in an idyllic version of love as much as their belief in Anna and Jacob. During a telling conversation with her older, wiser editor, Anna declares "I don't feel very young", only to be reassured with "well, you are".

Using some stylish editing tricks to express the passage of time, rather than seeing their stolen summer together it's condensed into a montage of messy beds that lasts no more than 30 seconds. Whole months are lost, yet we're always conscious of the emotional state of the two lovers. Seeking solace in other relationships (including Jennifer Lawrence in a brief but memorable performance) that are nothing more than stop gaps in their grander love story, there's parallels with that other great indie romance, Celine and Jesse from Before Sunrise & Before Sunset. The conclusion to Like Crazy's story is just as open ended as Before Sunset, and will no doubt lead to just as many different interpretations. Will Anna and Jacob survive as a couple or fail to recapture their initial spark? Maybe we'll find out in ten years.

If Blue Valentine is love in your 30's, Like Crazy is love in your 20's. Optimistic, foolish and full of romantic gestures, Like Crazy is an ode to the stupid lengths twentysomethings go to in their pursuit of an idealistic love story which, as the more seasoned viewer may know, is more complicated than that.

Verdict

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