Like Crazy | Film review
Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin face a lot of heartbreak over a stupid decision.
In the Sundance winner Like Crazy, British aspiring journalist Anna (Felicity Jones) and California college classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin) bond over Paul Simon, embark on an impossibly sweet (albeit time-vague) courtship, and find themselves so in love that after school, she overstays her visa so they can remain together for the summer. If that decision strikes you as deeply romantic—rather than an avoidable disaster-in-the-making—you might warm more readily to what follows: Anna’s violation bars her subsequent return to the U.S., necessitating a long-distance relationship as the couple’s respective careers take off in London and L.A.
The situation is poignant, yet the movie approaches it so schematically that it seems artificial. In a Sundance-ready contrivance, cowriter-director Drake Doremus tempts both lovers with new romantic partners (Jennifer Lawrence for him, Charlie Bewley for her). Showing little patience for real emotional messiness, the screenplay requires the characters to turn insensitive—ignoring text messages, having a jealousy-inducing conversation with the strapping lad next door—at crucial moments. Jones and Yelchin collaborated on their dialogue, giving their dynamic an unusual intimacy. But that only makes it more frustrating that the movie around them is so mechanized, essentially flipping switches to prove its points. In interviews, Doremus has cannily posited Like Crazy as a post–September 11 romance, but even Jones has expressed befuddlement at her character’s decision to ignore her visa instead of getting an extension. We live in a pragmatic world—and calculation is something Like Crazy understands all too well.