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Like Crazy: The Innocent and Illogical Way Young Lovers Do

As the once and future king of long distance relationships, take it from me: Drake Doremus’s Like Crazy contains a great deal of truth. Through naturalistic performances and a strong visual style, Doremus captures pretty accurately the irrational behavior when two young lovers are forced miles apart. There will be a good number of people annoyed by this film, as it follows two privileged white people making poor decisions and whining about their inability to fly across the Atlantic Ocean more than two times a year (the agony!). Still, the film is well-made, and I imagine the truth within will touch many who have experienced similar first-love hardships.

Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is a grad student, Anna (Felicity Jones) is an undergrad studying abroad in America. On a whim, she leaves a romantic note for Jacob in hopes that he will return her affections. After a coffee-shop first date, they fall swiftly in love. Her school visa expires at the end of the school year, but on a last-second impulse, she decides to stay for the summer. They become inseparable, and Doremus uses a series of montages and silent scenes to move the plot efficiently along. One problem: customs doesn’t take kindly to visa violations, and Anna is not allowed to re-enter America. They attempt to see each other, but they quickly learn that young people’s lives progress rapidly, and jealousy and resentment of lifestyles that don’t include the other start bubbling up. They also attempt to move on and date other people, yet the way their first love felt sticks with them. Jacob is faced with an ultimatum: move on with his life, or marry Anna in order to bring her back to America.

These kids make bad decisions. Many of you likely feel the impulse to stay together when separated by such a great distance is a bad decision, but it’s a choice made in earnest– life pulls you apart, but you don’t want to just give up when you love someone, so you give it a shot. I’ve given in a shot three times in my life; each one lasted longer than the previous, but in the end, all three failed because of the difficulties that emerge from the basic evolution of a human being over time. If you can’t deal well with the progressions that your partner has gone through while apart, you won’t last, and it’s challenging for both parties to emerge from those separate evolutions re-joining together unscathed. Jacob visits Anna in England and sees that Anna has fun going out to pubs with her girlfriends, and he feels left out– he doesn’t resent that she’s having a good time, it’s just a foreign idea when in love for the first time that your partner can have SO much fun without you present. Anna has an attractive man living in her apartment whom she is friendly with, and again, it plants a seed of insecurity within Jacob. These observations are executed softly and accurately by Doremus and company.

The dialogue, which I understand was mostly improvised, isn’t very distinct, but Doremus uses imagery to tell the story. Between montages and silent scenes, the pictures tell the story better than the words. Doremus also stages his scenes to create a visual key of separation– the first date Jacob and Anna go on ends with them touching hands on the opposite sides of a glass door. One wonders if the movie would have worked even better with less dialogue, a contemporary silent film depiction of naive young love. Yelchin and Jones are charming enough, especially Jones as that impulsive artsy girl that everyone seemed to fall in love with in college. Jennifer Lawrence is also affecting as Sam, Jacob’s stateside lover, though it did cross my mind multiple times that the two actresses were improbably good-looking for Yelchin, whose character doesn’t seem to have the magnetism necessary to convince me that two gorgeous young women would toss themselves so completely at his feet.

Perhaps my complaints about the film are overly cynical. It’s certainly an accurate depiction, but young lovers, from an outsider’s perspective, are objectively selfish and whiny and insatiable. Nothing else matters to them– so when they both have insanely nice apartments, really attractive other options for significant others, the money to fly across the ocean multiple times a year, and so forth, they still feel like their lives are woeful miserable endeavors. At times, they’re cute together, and at times you want to wring their necks for being so illogical– again, seems accurate to me. The most accurate moment is the very end, as the film doesn’t cop out and give them the easiest resolution. Doremus gives the ending something reminiscent of The Graduate, but unlike The Graduate, which satirized the society the protagonist was a part of, these rich young white people sip wine, walk around in spacious and luxurious flats, and complain that their respective significant others are able to have fun without them. I didn’t find myself fully emotionally connected to Jacob and Anna, but I related to that innocent selfishness. These people aren’t like crazy: they are crazy, selfish, jealous, resentful, dumb, likely detestable to those who have never experienced young love, and likely recognizable to those who have.

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~ by russellhainline on December 4, 2011.

3 Responses to “Like Crazy: The Innocent and Illogical Way Young Lovers Do”

  1. “At times, they’re cute together, and at times you want to wring their necks for being so illogical…” – I agree completely!

    It was like you put into words everything that I have thought about this film… well except for that part about The Graduate because I haven’t seen that.

    The constant thought in my mind as I watched this film was “they’re crazy”, but yeah, I completely understand the craziness that comes with young love.

  2. […] ACTRESS: 10. Felicity Jones, Like Crazy 9. Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids 8. Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene 7. Michelle Williams, My […]

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