Have you ever experienced young, long-distance love? If you have, your story is probably a lot more interesting than what happens in Like Crazy, Drake Doremus' new movie on that very subject. The film, a festival darling earlier this year, tells a thin and wispy story about shallow, underdeveloped characters about whom I had a lot of trouble caring.
Imagine it as (500) Days of Summer, only with considerably less-appealing characters and minus the wit, humor or creativity. It's also clearly autobiographical, although unlike in 500 Days the director resists the urge to call his former lover a "bitch" by name in the opening titles.
Like Crazy tells the story of American Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and British Anna (Felicity Jones), a couple in their 20s who fall in love while at a UCLA-like university. After they graduate (and she's thrust into a visa nightmare that is completely, unquestionably her own fault), the two find themselves separated by an ocean and tempted by others.
The film gets off to a good start as the early scenes of the couple meeting and falling in love are genuinely affecting and charming, but aside from a couple of phone-call scenes, the movie can't keep it up.
This is mostly because the characters are so thinly developed that it's hard to care about them or anything they do. It's also sort of hard to root for this couple to overcome all of their obstacles when the film does such a poor job of establishing them as inseparable soul Movie Review:mates.
The story is also hurt by an extreme over-reliance on montage sequences, a storytelling cheat that's fine in small doses but not when it substitutes for relationship and character development.
Shot with a Canon DSLR camera at a budget in the low six figures, Like Crazy isn't the worst-looking movie I've seen this year, but it's certainly in the discussion. The soundtrack, of course, consists of lots of subpar indie rock, as well as a couple of Paul Simon songs that likely cost half the film's budget.
Then there's this problem – if we're going to make a movie about someone's immigration tussle, of course it's going to be about an attractive, rich, young, white British woman who's returning to the comfort of a middle-class life in London.
Things like this happen, I'm sure, although I'm not sure Anna's story is either the most typical or the most compelling story there is out there about the American immigrant experience.
The cast is better than this film deserves. Yelchin has been better in other movies and Jones will be. Jennifer Lawrence (from Winter's Bone) has a thankless but memorable role as a fetching woman Jacob takes up with, while Oliver Muirhead and Alex Kingston, as Anna's parents, seem like guest stars from a different, better movie. Chris Messina, an actor I quite like, is listed in the credits but I don't remember him being in the movie.
Want to see a movie sort of like this that's much better? Rent Once – in which you'll also be treated to about a dozen great songs – or just watch (500) Days of Summer again.
The Silver Screen Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
- Roll Credits: Like Crazy
- Directed by: Drake Doremus
- Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence and Alex Kingston
- Rated: PG-13
- Length: 90 minutes.