Watching director Drake Doremus’ poignant picture, “Like Crazy,” is like revisiting the skeletons in your closet.
You might have known an Anna (Felicity Jones) or Jacob (Anton Yelchin) — the saccharine couple that stars in this story, written by Doremus and his childhood friend, Ben York Jones.
Anna’s a British journalism student studying in Santa Monica, Calif, on a student visa. Jacob’s an American architecture student from Southern California. They meet in a class together; Anna writes Jacob love letters. They connect over Paul Simon, whiskey and awkward conversations — mostly improvised by actors Jones and Yelchin.
This starts their relationship — one that plays over beautiful montages (shot by John Guleserian and edited by Jonathan Alberts) of intimate close ups of hands and feet, sunsets on Santa Monica beach and walks on the Third Street Promenade. But we’re not moved by this couple’s plight until a half an hour into this 90-minute independent film.
Anna inevitably overstays her student visa and is deported back to London; Jacob has started a furniture company in L.A. Their relationship is painful to watch.
It’s easy to relate to Anna and Jacob’s story though. They’re your friends and romantic partners from high school or college — whom you still remember fondly, but have since lost touch with. Their improvised dialogue feels like a couple of strangers getting to know each other. But as much as you want to love Anna and Jacob, it’s hard.
Although Jones and Yelchin are an attractive and talented pair of young actors, Anna and Jacob’s relationship is stagnant. Sure, their radiant smiles are warm and inviting, but their time together is dull to watch. Jones’ Anna never seems truly comfortable until she’s back in London — navigating her post at a UK fashion magazine. Similarly, Jacob’s relationship with his secretary, Sam (played by the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence) seems looser and easier.
Compared to his charismatic and energetic performances in “Charlie Barlett,” “Middle of Nowhere” and “Star Trek,” Yechin’s more subdued in Doremus’ romantic film. This is emphasized by the film’s slow pauses.
“It’s hard to keep stopping and starting,” says Anna.
It’s hard for the audience to watch too.
“Like Crazy” was directed by Drake Doremus and written by Doremus and Ben York Jones.