Anna (Felicity Jones), a British student, embarks upon a passionate, life-changing relationship with classmate, Jacob (Anton Yelchin), only to be separated when she overstays her visa and is refused re-entry into the US. Forced apart, Anna and Jacob must battle distance, jealously and their flourishing personal lives to keep their spark alive.
In stripped-back, scrapbook-like fashion, Like Crazy flits between time periods – from when Anna and Jacob first meet in Los Angeles, to their separation which involves Anna returning home to London, and everything in between – with a remarkable ease, remarkable ease, much of the credit for which goes to editor Jonathan Alberts’ inspired use of quick-cuts.
Writer/director Drake Doremus and co-writer Ben York Jones refuse to overcomplicate the narrative with unnecessary backstories and pre-written dialogue: instead they choose to keep the tone light-hearted throughout, capturing Anna and Jacob’s unsettled five year romance through snippets of conversation and important acts, employing montages to skip through time astutely.
Doremus’ inventive, sharp use of shaky cam adds to the credibility of Anna and Jacob’s relationship through its ability to capture the overall emotions Anna and Jacob are feeling through sustained, subtly orchestrated camera angles, without wallowing too much in sentimentality. The creative use of one of Hollywood’s most overused techniques not only provides a crazed insight into Anna and Jacob’s lives, but also pulls the audience into the narrative, delivering a fully absorbing experience.
While not overlooking Doremus and Jones’ faint outline, working in lieu of a laboriously devised screenplay not only allows Jones and Yelchin more room to breathe in their respective roles (most of the dialogue is improvised), but also helps the centralised romance between the two – arguably the most important aspect of the film – to be exponentially more authentic, intimate and completely devoid of contrivances.
In light of this, Jones and Yelchin excel as Anna and Jacob, both living by their hearts rather than their heads, never thinking things through and forever paying for their recklessness. The two, in addition to having pitch-perfect chemistry, prove themselves as excellent actors, not least in their ability to say so much through sly glances, quirky character traits and body language.
In terms of the supporting cast, each individual makes their mark. Jennifer Lawrence as Sam, a girl Jacob gets close to as his relationship with Anna grows strained, along with Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s intriguing parents are noteworthy However, none ever feel as essential or appealing as Jones and Yelchin’s turns.
Founded on two of the year’s most tender performances, from Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, Like Crazy is fruitful, urgent and rousingly upfront.