Review: Like Crazy
PLOT: A British exchange student, Anna (Felicity Jones) falls madly in love with Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American student/aspiring carpenter. Throughout their college years, the two enjoy a blissful romance, but harsh reality sets in when Anna violates her student visa, and is unable to re-enter the US. The two try to make a long-distance relationship work, but their evolving careers and love lives threaten their initially perfect romance.
REVIEW: LIKE CRAZY is like a warm and cuddly version of BLUE VALENTINE. OK, I know I've probably lost a lot of you right there, but stick with me. I'm a pretty populist guy, who enjoys everything from the grittiest indie, to the slickest big-studio fare, just as long as it's well done. LIKE CRAZY, while not bringing anything terribly original to the table, is still a very well-made film, and pretty damn satisfying as a result.
Reportedly, the early public screenings of this have been a madhouse, with many pegging it as the sleeper hit of the fest. Seeing it for myself, that seems like a perfectly reasonable conclusion. While it probably won't be one of my top picks for the fest, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it makes a satisfying addition to the indie romance genre which is a Sundance staple.
Key to the success are the immensely likable leads. Yelchin really comes into his own here in a way he hasn't had the chance to do in some of the big-time blockbusters (STAR TREK, TERMINATOR: SALVATION), he's been appearing in lately. He makes a credible, and likable romantic lead. His character is also refreshingly three-dimensional, with him unable to resist the wiles of sexy Jennifer Lawrence (WINTER'S BONE) when separated from the girl that's clearly the love of his life. In the hands of a lot of other actors, his character might have been a bit insufferable, especially in some of the later scenes where his own hang-ups threaten to torpedo the affair, but Yelchin does wonders with the part. However, my feeling is that the big breakout star here is going to be Felicity Jones, who lights up the screen.
Jones actually appeared in Ricky Gervais' underrated CEMETERY JUNCTION, and watching her there I was sure she'd be making a big splash before long. Turns out, it only took a year, as LIKE CRAZY has the potential to be a star-making performance for Jones. Of the two, she's the one that seems to be the truly smitten one, and she instigates the romance, which is a nice twist for a romance, as it's usually the other way around.
LIKE CRAZY is the sophomore film from director Drake Doremus, with this following his earlier indie hit, DOUCHEBAG. Obviously, LIKE CRAZY's a big step into the mainstream, but I think it's one that will pay off, perhaps in the same way 500 DAYS OF SUMMER put Marc Webb on the map.
While I think it's too early to tell if this will have a massive effect on his career, to me, this felt like a sleeper hit, and I expect this will be one of the big sales of the fest. It really has all the ingredients. A hip, marketable soundtrack (with heavy use of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album, that figures into the plot), attractive, likable leads, and just enough pathos to keep this from feeling too cookie cutter, meaning even those who despise rom-coms will enjoy it.
Of course, LIKE CRAZY doesn't really offer viewers anything they haven't seen before, other than a surprisingly sharp critique of US immigration policies. Nevertheless, LIKE CRAZY is still a damn likable flick. I should mention that the ending left more than a few audience members reaching for the tissues- even at the press screening. Is LIKE CRAZY this year's GARDEN STATE or 500 DAYS OF SUMMER? Time will tell, but I'll say this: it has a damn good chance.
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