Have you ever been in love so deep that you could feel that person’s presence before you saw them? Smell their scent in a crowd? Understand their feelings with a glance? Have you ever been so in love that you felt like…like crazy? Anna and Jacob have.
From the moment we see Anna, she’s reading through an assigned paper at her university, and using Jacob as a focal point in a room of shifty, break-ready students. She can’t muster the courage to say more than a few words to him, but she manages to drop a long, thoughtful letter onto his car windshield. He doesn’t waste time deciding whether or not to call her, and when he does they don’t waste time falling in love. Deep in love. So deep that a two-month googly-eye and love making hiatus seems insufferable and Anna violates her student visa in order to spend the summer with Jacob in Los Angeles instead of with her parents at home in Britain. Because no good deed goes unpunished, Anna is banned from re-entering the United States, even for a visit. She and Jacob suffer for years in the pull-and-tug of love lost, gained, lost, gained…
They try to make it work after college is done. They try calling. That doesn’t work. The frustration builds to a boiling point, and they give up. But they can’t give up because they love each other. Like crazy.
So, they see other people because that’s the sane thing to do. But that doesn’t work because like Anna says, “What I have with you, I don’t have with another human being … on the planet.” And try as Jacob may to feel indifferent, he doesn’t. It’s evident when he calls his new girlfriend, the beautiful Sarah (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games) , by Anna’s name. Or when he leaves a party he’s attending with Sarah to talk to Anna who is miles and miles away. For them, it’s more than distance that separates them; it’s the unknowing- that thing that lingers and drives a hole into your heart because you don’t know if your life would be a kajillion times better if only you had that person you love near enough to touch.
The highlight of the film is a two part study. The first are the talented and understated performances by Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, Jacob and Anna respectively. These two actors feel their way through the film by feeling their way through each other. They seem to breathe each other in even when they don’t share the screen. Their interactions with the other actors are just as they should have been- honest, life-like. They weren’t acting. They were simply being.
The second highlight is the directing by Drake Doremus. The beautiful thing about indie filmmaking is that it is as much an opportunity to show off the script (which had some truly stellar moments, particularly in pacing) as it is an opportunity for the director to show off his style. In this case, like so many indie films, the director is the same as the writer (or at least one-half of the writing team). Usually, an indie film has to try really hard to not look like an indie film. Like Crazy doesn’t bother. And it’s not a bad thing. The director takes the fact that it’s a film about struggle, albeit the struggle of lovers, and uses it to compose the raw, almost inexpensive feel of the film, something typically avoided. There are moments when extras stare directly into the camera, probably because they don’t yet know they’re extras. Scenes when the sound quality isn’t the best, but somehow it adds to the mystique. And times when the viewer realizes the scenes mostly occur in someone’s house or a basement party or outdoors. Maybe those aren’t clues that the non-filmmaking viewer would pick up on, but filmmakers tip their hats in understanding. The struggle is real, and in Like Crazy -whose theme is about the tension and joy of being crazy in love- all signs of struggle are welcome.
The film paints an honest portrait of what it means to put all of one’s emotional value into another person and to hope that other person has the sense not to discard it like last night's dinner receipt. It’s about love gained, given away, found, lost, and captured forever or for never- for better or worse. This film doesn’t mind showing the worse, and it certainly doesn’t mind showing the crazy.
I would recommend it to a friend. This means you.
Until the next scene,