Love has been represented on film since cameras could capture imagery. For hundreds of years, love has been the sole representation of many artists through all kinds of artistic mediums. Music, paintings, sculptures, and even buildings have been created due to love.
So, why is it that love can’t be honestly captured through cinema? Is it because “love knows no bounds” and is impossible to represent through a picture? Or is it because we really don’t want to know what love actually is, rather a more, well, romantic version of it.
Like Crazy, which is director Drake Doremus’ debut film, is about a pair of college students who fall for each other during their senior year. Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is an aspiring furniture maker, while Anna (Felicity Jones) is hoping to make it as a journalist. The two meet after Anna leaves a romantic, and somewhat long, note on Jacob’s car. They go on a date, and the chemistry is immediate. For the rest of their final year at college, they’re inseparable, but when graduation rolls around, Anna has to go home because her student visa has expired. She’d have to be out of the country and out of Jacob’s arms for two and a half months. Not able to bear this almost insurmountable amount of time, she decides that she’s going to stay, and Jacob stupidly agrees.
The two spend the rest of the summer together, until she really has to go back for a family member’s wedding. When she tries to come back to the states, though, she is denied access due to violation of her prior visa. She is sent back to London alone and heartbroken. The film then fades to what we can presume is a couple of months later since Jacob and Anna don’t seem to be talking much anymore. Finally, Jacob breaks down and goes to London to visit her, where again the two are madly in love. During the end of their holiday together, Anna suggests that Jacob be allowed to see other people for “his benefit” because she feels like he’s “not able to live the life he wants to.” Jacob is hurt by this, and goes back to the states lonely and heartbroken (sensing a pattern here?).
The film proceeds to fade again to what the audience must presume is months later again. Jacob is now with a girl named Sam (Jennifer Lawrence, oddly enough, as Yelchin’s love interest for the 2nd time this year, after the far superior ‘The Beaver’). Anna is alone, and begs Jacob to come back and marry her because she’s so madly in love with him. Jacob then stupidly agrees again, breaks Sam’s heart, and goes and marries Anna.
They are then separated again for six more months while Anna’s visa application processes. When the six months are up, they go to get everything validated, only to find out that her visa is still not eligible for validation to due the first incident. Angry and annoyed by this, they have another huge fight, which prompts them to divorce.
Jacob goes back to the states lonely and heartbroken yet again.
You guys know the drill by now. Film fades, Jacob is back with Sam, and Anna is with Simon (Charlie Bewley), a neighbor that was a little too friendly with Anna when Jacob wasn’t with her. Both Simon and Sam seem exponentially happy with their relationships whereas Jacob and Anna still aren’t fulfilled even though it clearly looks like they are. I know you must hate me by now as I’m giving away the entire plot, or shreds of what can be called a plot, but I feel required to for numerous reasons.
For one, Like Crazy is a mostly aimless film. Written only in outlines, and having the cast improvise all of the lines, Like Crazy is simply a selection of scenes rather than a coherent story. At first, I thought that the improvisational approach the film took was both experimental and innovative, but seeing how conventional the story is, and how bland the characters are, it seems more like a lazy cop-out than an artistic decision. Our protagonists are borderline unlikable in the way that they toy with the feelings of not only each other, but also all the other people around them. Anna’s parents, whose roles end up being more of an extended cameo than anything, have the most fascinating and funny scenes in the film. They represent a much happier, more decisive couple that knew what they were getting into before they rushed to get married.
In my opinion, Sam was a much better match for Jacob than Anna, but love does what it wants, and in this case, it kicked her heart in the ass, twice I might add, which I felt was extremely unfair to her character. As for Simon, he was also a great guy who truly cared about Anna’s well-being and future. Not that Jacob didn’t, but I felt like Simon took a much more proactive approach to life than Jacob did.
In defense of Like Crazy, the performances, music, and direction were all fantastic, but its lackluster and frankly boring story, as truthful and real as it may seem to be, drags its 89 minute running time to extraneous and unfair lengths. Like Crazy plays out like a hybrid of (500) Days of Summer and Going The Distance, but neither as funny, entertaining or insightful. If you want to see love in all different forms, go to a wedding. There’s more drama, more dancing, and free food.