What a ride it’s been. If the film festival began with an homage to films past, then it ended with an example of films in the present. “Like Crazy” tells the story of young love and all its highs and lows and manages to inject a new passion into a genre that may not always have it.
Anna (Felicity Jones), a British native studying in America under a visa, is infatuated with Jacob (Anton Yelchin), the teacher’s assistant in one of her classes. She leaves a long love poem on the windshield of his car to confess her feelings. Fortunately for her, he feels intrigued instead of stalked, and calls her for a date.
Right out of the park, it’s clear that Anna has much stronger feelings for Jacob than he does for her. Jones does a great job in the first act of portraying the kind of lovesick young woman that everyone’s known at some point.
On their first date, she spends the majority of the time giggling and smiling, in between trying to converse in an adorably awkward way. She has such a loving look in her eye that in that one moment, all the love she feels for the young man in front of her can be felt through the screen.
Jacob himself is no less of a romantic. Although, his performance during their first date leans a little more towards the awkward side.
He stutters, randomly brings up subjects and injects more than a few silences into the conversation. And yet, Yelchin plays the character so sympathetically that Jacob never comes across as annoying or creepy. He’s just a young man in love, and by the end of the first date, the two are hooked.
Time passes. Instead of a simple title card, cinematographer John Guleserian chose to show the passage of time by changing the cinematography. The film turns into a home movie styled montage of Anna and Jacob enjoying their life together. The personal feeling of this style makes it easier to accept not only that their relationship has gone on for a while, but also that the two have grown close.
So close that Jacob is soon meeting Anna’s parents and winning them over. He’s also made Anna a chair, as his major happens to be furniture design. The chair will be a constant presence in the film, and serves as a reminder to both Anna and the audience of their relationship. Even caught up in their romance, Jacob finally asks the big question. What will happen to them once Anna’s visa is up?
As it turns out, romance gets the best of Anna, and she stays in America longer than her visa allows. The next time she tries getting into the country, she’s detained and sent back to Britain. It is a testament to the goodwill Jones builds in her role that when her character sits detained, not speaking and clearly heartbroken, it’s so easy to forgive her for her mistake.
More time passes. Anna and Jacob become an on again, off again couple, going through the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship. Along the way, they each pick up a new lover on the rebound. Jacob has Sam (Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna has Simon (Charlie Bewley).
It’d be nice to be able to say that this adds another level of tension to the film. But that’s not the case. Neither of the two characters are ever really given much personality. Sam is nothing more than a hot noncombative blonde, whose first line of dialogue has her asking if Jacob needs his pants ironed. Simon is just a generic handsome British guy whose big scene involves making a fool of himself in front of Anna’s parents. Admittedly, it’s a hilarious scene, but the character never gets any more depth.
It’s true that “Like Crazy” is first and foremost the story of Anna and Jacob, but the lack of really good supporting characters hurts the film. As the third act rolls around, there’s a need for a rest from Anna and Jacob’s melodrama.
Still, the film manages to save itself. Anna and Jacob may be different people by the movie’s end, but the long journey from one point to the other makes it more than worth it, like it should be in any good film.Contact Carlos Serrano.