Full disclosure statement: Long-distance relationships have pretty much defined my romantic life, both with happy and unhappy endings. So when it comes to Like Crazy, I speak with a certain degree of authority when I say that director/co-writer Drake Doremus gets so many things piercingly perfect in this little heartbreaker.
The setup finds Los Angeles college seniors Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) sharing a perfect first date that turns into a passionate romance. There’s just one significant complication: Anna is British, and her student visa will expire when she graduates in just a short time. Only doing something crazy—like overstaying that visa by two months so they can spend more time together during a blissful summer—could eventually come between them.
From the outset, the two leads provide performances that capture what will make this connection both perfect and (perhaps) doomed. Jones in particular delivers a star-making turn, giving aching depth to what might easily have felt like a callow version of young love, while Yelchin finds a way to make even his drift into a relationship with another woman (Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence) seem sympathetic rather than dickish.
Doremus, meanwhile, makes choice after choice that finds focus for his largely improvised interpretation of this concept, from keeping Jacob and Anna in separate shots at the outset to choosing never to show the couple making love. The result is a film full of tiny heartbreaks: the sense of disconnection that comes from separation, exemplified by a sequence capturing a series of repeated missed calls; the inevitable doubts and suspicions; the way sometimes a relationship can continue past its expiration date just because you want so badly for it to work. Like Crazy becomes a movie to fall in love with because of the way it conveys a certain kind of love story.
Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence