| Hollywood mass produces love stories.
Studios usually spew out a mediocre romantic comedy several times a month, frequently with lowbrow audiences in mind. But once in a while a refreshing independent gem comes along, free from the gloss and cliché of those big name, over-produced romances. The down-to-earth "Like Crazy" offers such an experience, bound tightly in honest emotion, gritty realism and performances so convincing, with such astounding chemistry, it feels like real life unfolding onscreen.
"Like Crazy" follows the relationship between Anna (Felicity Jones), an enchanting, bright-minded Brit, and sweet, charming American Jacob (Anton Yelchin), two college students in Los Angeles who quickly fall for each other. The first act shows the blossoming of their blissful relationship, the couple so madly lost in love that nothing else matters to them. This all-consuming passion leads Anna to overstay her student visa for the summer after graduation, a fateful mistake that gets her deported back to London and banned from re-entering the U.S.
Anna is legally unable to leave the U.K., while Jacob is too rooted in his successful furniture design business in L.A. to move his life to her country, relegated only to sporadic visits. The distance fractures them, and each engages in another relationship, though in their hearts they know they belong together and they persist in their attempts to achieve this.
Their struggle to overcome this conflict of separation drives the movie, so captivating and relatable that the viewer pains for them to be together, with a genuine power rarely seen in romances anymore. Every tight embrace, every longing gaze and every contemplative text message convey more about that special connection between two people than any holiday centered rom-com or tween vampire saga ever could.
Director/co-writer Drake Doremus delivers a real love story here, capturing the full essence of the wondrous magic and heartbreaking pain of true love. He heavily bases the film off his own experiences, and that authenticity shines through in every scene. Most of the dialogue between Yelchin and Jones was even improvised, furthering the realistic feel that pervades "Like Crazy." Additionally, Doremus manages to present it all in a stylish, visually-luscious package, especially utilizing montages to superb effect–all the more impressive considering the whole film was made on a meager budget of $250,000.
But it's really Yelchin and Jones who make this such a remarkable journey, both delivering outstanding, star-making performances that never once lack in conviction. Yelchin has already made a name for himself as an endearing, witty young upstart the past few years from "Charlie Bartlett" to the recent "Fright Night," but with this, he proves his impressive talent as a dramatic lead too. Jones is the real find however, a tender, mousy little beauty that'll melt your heart and pull at your heartstrings.
And that feeling is exactly what "Like Crazy" is all about–illustrating the sweetness of love as well as the anguish that comes with it. The true-to-life version, not the Hollywood one.