Sunday, November 20, 2011

Like Crazy (Review)

BRIEFLY: Like Crazy is the perfect love story without being perfect at all. There is no Nicholas Sparks schmaltz, no John Hughes nostalgia--only real, raw, authentic, love. Though it's characters navigate through all the stereotypical moments of first love (the kiss, the awkward date, the terms of endearment, the heartbreak, etc.), they do so with such authenticity that we feel like Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are really falling for each other. The camera work has a visceral, voyeuristic quality that further elevates Like Crazy into a realm all its own. It's easy to see how Like Crazy swept Sundance off it's feet, because quite literally it floored me.

DETAILED REVIEW: Like Crazy was Sundance's critical darling. By the festival's end, it had amassed huge crowds and was merited with the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture. Though it rose to meteoric levels, I didn't have it on my Sundance radar, because Martha Marcy May Marlene (the one where the Olsen twins' sister starred as a cult escapee) looked so good as to render other festival fare futile. It wasn't until Amanda Mitchell (BFF and former University Journal Editor-in-Chief) sent me the Like Crazy trailer on Facebook. Viewing the trailer was the nail in my coffin. I simply HAD to see this movie.

Starring Anton Yelchin of Star Trek and Fright Night fame, as well as newcomer Felicity Jones, Like Crazy is about the roller coaster we call love. Though the premise of two people falling madly for each other seems rehashed and stale--it isn't. Instead, Like Crazy is a breath of fresh air accented by performances that are captivating. Further both the camera work and cinematography flow seamlessly. It's the first love story I've ever described as 'hypnotic,' which in and of itself is an odd, but intriguing label.

Anna (Jones), with her crooked toothed smile, beams with the blossoming seed of love. Yet, Anna has to return to Britain because her visa has expired. Instead of doing the logical thing, Anna stays to be with Jacob (Yelchin). Certainly love this genuine is powerful enough to conquer any foreign affair? The answer to that question is, "No!" as Anna is barred from returning to America because of the visa violation. What is a poor couple to do? Think about each other, miss each other, and of course love each other--like crazy. The problem is that because of their distance they find that its too hard to keep the relationship going, even when Jacob comes to Britain to visit. "It's hard to stop and start again," Anna surmises.

Against all previous inclinations, they find other love but can't seem to get over each other no matter how attractive their new partners are. Jennifer Lawrence is Sam, Jacob's American lover while Anna's beau is Simon (Charlie Brewely). There's a lot of heartbreak for most of the second and third acts. Indeed, the film seeks to show that love is as much heartbreak as it is anything else.

Though the primary characters are extremely captivating, I couldn't help but be drawn to Anna and Jacob's forlorn, substitute lovers--Sam and Simon. What gets lost in Like Crazy is that for Sam and Simon, their passionate love is Anna and Jacob. Simon and Sam are the unrequited lovers, that so which they could be loved.

I'm not sure I've ever been in love--not the real love that Anna and Jacob have for each other. I do know however how Sam feels when her heart is broken and the words, "But I love you Jacob," fall on deaf ears while the sinking reality sets in. I KNOW that feeling--a feeling that quite frankly sucks.

Though its unclear whether any of these characters deserves a happy ending, it matters little, because Like Crazy is not about the destination, but rather the journey as love's natural course ebbs and flows. Truly, love is obsession, passion, something you can't quite live without. You grasp to it, which in the end is all Anna and Jacob have for each other--the love. To borrow a famous quote from Meet Joe Black, "If you haven't loved--you haven't lived." In the end Like Crazy is about exactly that; living and loving, as well as all the emotions both bad and good in between.

If you love Nicholas Sparks films, you'll probably hate this movie, which is exactly the reason Like Crazy is a film not to be missed.


And yes... you'll probably cry.

(Though I of course only teared up...) ;)

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