Some people find The One in high school. Others take years to find their soulmate. Some will keep searching. Some will give up. (And people like me will write a paragraph full of short sentences.)
Yesterday I saw the romantic drama, Like Crazy, directed by Drake Doremus and starring Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin. It won the Sundance Film Festival Sinner for Best Picture (Grand Jury Prize).
Going into the theater, I thought that I’d appreciate Like Crazy because, from the movie trailer, it looked like it was going to be a slow-paced, bipolar, bittersweet kind of love story that makes you introspective.
I feel like so many romantic movies these days tend to be too staged, cheesy, and predictable, which is why films like this get my attention. I enjoy plots that don’t follow a formulaic development. Not every conflict has a resolution. It’s fun to play What If.
In this Smorgasbord Sundays post, I’ll share my thoughts on Like Crazy. Don’t worry – there won’t be any major spoilers to ruin anything if you haven’t seen the movie yet!
Allow me to break it down for you and give you my extremely lazy little appetizer.
Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) are college students studying in L.A. While Jacob is a US resident, Anna is from the UK and only has a visa. They fall in love with each other pretty quickly, progressing from the early stages of puppy love through to an unbalanced relationship where one doesn’t feel right without the other.
After overstaying her visa, Anna is banned from the US, which separates our love birds and creates a lot of strain on their future plans to be together.
Once torn apart, each is forced to lead a different life that is no longer a fusion of two halves. They both come to the stark realization that each must be a self-driven mutually exclusive whole. Of course, this takes a toll on the strong connection they have as other romantic interests waltz into their lives and play Monopoly with heart real estate.
They attempt to deepen their commitment, but ultimately find themselves as emotionally distant as they are geographically distant.
*~* What I Liked *~*
Love Stories Aren’t Always About Happiness
Like Crazy showed that with love comes pain, grieving, suffering, resilience, and insanity. While the ups are waaaay up there, the lows are terribly low.
I think that a lot of times we get caught up with the idea of love that we forget that once we take the plunge, we also make huge sacrifices.
I noticed that a lot of scenes had the main characters framed in squares or rectangles such as windows and door frames. And there was a lot of solid-coloured blocks that visually separated the couple. There was also a scene where the two are separated by a glass door.
To me, all of these visual cues symbolize how while the couple feels so close to one another, they have to learn to be their own independent person to be fully actualized. In other words, they can’t rely on each other to feel complete. They must be complete on their own and then allow the other person to complement them for a healthy relationship.
Lots of movies spell everything out for you like they’re dictionaries. I like to piece together connections myself. So that’s why I really enjoyed the subtlety of Felicity Jones’ acting. Her smirks and her quirks felt authentic, and I found her delivery very natural. Even the scenes that were supposed to be awkward felt very real. I’m very interested in seeing her in other roles to see what she can (or can’t) do.
This is such a refreshing change from the hyper films that tend to dominate the big screen.
Although certain parts were drawn out, it really helps the viewer pay closer attention to the dialogue, the body language, and the camera movement.
The slow pace is also congruent with a key theme in the movie, which is patience. We’re constantly reminded to not rush into anything. And although there’s a popular saying that good things are worth waiting for, that part about the promised ‘good things’ isn’t mentioned. There’s just the waiting part that’s stressed.
The End Is Just the Beginning
I like how at the end of the movie, we’re left with more questions and concerns. It makes you wonder what will become of them? Will they be happy? Will they break up?
This was unlike a typical romantic movie because you see snapshot memories in the romance between Anna and Jacob. I think this added an interesting type of movement to a slow-paced film.
*~* What I Didn’t Like *~*
This character came across as a boring loser. I didn’t find him romantic, charming, intelligent, or likeable at all. The whole time, I wished that Anna would fall deeply in love with someone else.
Jacob designs chairs. It could be cool, but the ones he sketches and makes are like stick-figure chairs with the creativity sucked out of them.
I also found Jacob to be very weak. He hardly speaks and he doesn’t express himself widely with body language or facial expressions. Even when he says how he feels, he just states the obvious (e.g. “I feel weird.”) without unpacking the statement, which I found very frustrating and childish.
Sam (A Woman Jacob Dates)
During a breakup, all Sam does is cry a bit, says she loves Jacob, and then gets up to leave. I found that to be really unbelievable. If you’re in that situation, you would probably try to plead to be taken back. The abruptness of her actions made it seem like she didn’t really care, even though her character is supposed to be in love with him.
The Lack of External Social Context
The only time you see Anna’s boss is when Anna’s told about her promotions. Other than that, you don’t see anyone she works with. And even at Jacob’s workplace, you only see his receptionist really. Perhaps the director did that to isolate the unhealthy relationship that Anna and Jacob have.
*~* Parting Thoughts *~*
I felt that Like Crazy amplified the unbalanced, dependent nature of soulmates who have found each other and the disappointment that ensues when love doesn’t live up to Hollywood standards. (Even when you feel like you’re right for each other, a lot can still go wrong. But it’s the love and commitment you share that may help to get you through it.)
While they wanted to be together, when they actually are together, they realize that the pastoral puppy-love infatuation days are well behind them and that they’re forced to welcome the next stage, which is emotional companionship with less emphasis on physical love.
The final scene depicts the two love birds together in a very sombre scene. As a viewer, you feel like the empathetic voyeur of the couple’s intimate relationship.
The message from this movie is that we can overcome obstacles with perseverence and patience, but we’re bound to make mistakes along the way. Sometimes, we realize that what want sometimes turns into a whole other animal by the time we actually get it.
So…would I recommend this film?
Like Crazy isn’t for you if you prefer stories that unfold quickly, are chock full of special effects, or if you want to see a lot of action.
If your typical movie is like a firecracker, Like Crazy is akin to a flower blooming in real time. In other words, you have to have a lot of patience to watch this film. It’s free of bells and whistles, so you can actually pay more attention to the acting nuances and cinematography.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10
Have you seen any good movies lately? What are your favourite genres? Do you think you’d be bored to tears watching Like Crazy?