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Monday, November 14, 2011

Film Review | Like Crazy

He Loves Me,
He Loves Me Not

By Thomas Delapa

As wispy as cigarette smoke in a cyclone, Like Crazy might be likened to a precious, humorless When Harry Met Sally. This surprise Sundance award winner is a little romance, and a lot of heartbreak.

Audiences might be mad about Felicity Jones after her radiant breakthrough as Anna, a young Brit attending college in Los Angeles. While Drake Doremus’ film falls short on classy luster, Jones may have graduated to stardom.

In light of Jones’ vivacious, scene-stealing charms, Like Crazy is a one-sided relationship in more ways than one. While Anna falls passionately in love with Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American design student, it would be a stretch to say that the stolid Yelchin is Jones’ acting match.

Largely improvised by the leads, Doremus’ “script” hinges on a weak, squeaky post-9/11 plot. In violation of her student visa, Anna overstays her U.S. welcome after college, a transgression that comes back to haunt the couple. Once back in the U.K., Anna is told that she can’t legally return to the U.S. Though Jacob can visit her and her parents, he’s not crazy about moving to England.

So the romance ping-pongs back and forth across the miles and years, and often via a series of rather mundane telephone messages. Long-distance relationships may be common in our globalized world, but they don’t exactly reach out and touch you as intimate drama. Unless Elizabeth Barrett Browning is writing them, LOL, text messages aren’t as poignant as love poems or swooning embraces.

Pert and poignantly vulnerable, Jones almost dials up a winning connection. That’s in spite of Doremus’ maddening hand-held camerawork and jumpy editing, which seem to be his heavy-handed way of conveying the nervous fragility of the romance. The small, tender moments between Anna and Jacob are finely captured, but they amount to pecks on the cheek, not rapturous kisses.

Before their first forced separation, Jacob gives Anna a bracelet engraved with the word “patience.” It’s a watchword that he will begin to forget, much to Anna’s chagrin etched on her face. Doremus tracks the doubts and insecurities that can arise between lovers that grow apart physically and emotionally. Alone in his L.A. studio designing furniture, Jacob faithlessly falls for his fetching blond co-worker (Winter’s Bone Jennifer Lawrence). Climbing the ladder as a journalist in London, Anna turns to a former neighbor (Charlie Bewley) for consolation. In our crazy and fickle modern world, vows, like hearts, seem made to be broken.


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