Like Crazy is an endearing film about intelligent young people (what a relief) and the resilience it takes for their love to overcome geography. Anna (enchanting Felicity Jones) is a British college student with the most beguiling eyes since Jean Simmons, earning credits for a series of writing courses in California. Jacob (Anton Yelchin) studies furniture design and lives with his widowed Mom. They’re both only children who find in each other the humor, caring, togetherness and sense of belonging they never had before. Refreshingly languid about the way it gives the two students room to think and grow and get to know each other, the film moves into their hearts and so will you.
When the semester ends, Anna must reluctantly return to England to renew her visa so she can qualify for the fall term. Jacob gives her a gold bracelet with the word “Patience” engraved on it. Overwhelmed with emotion, she stays, violating her visa. When the time comes to return to Los Angeles, her entry visa and passport are denied by U.S. immigration and she is forcibly sent back to London.
Separated by miles as well as red tape, their love is reduced to e-mails and cell phones. He moves on with his furniture, she gets a job with a British magazine, but the luster does not tarnish. No matter how hard they try to be mature and impassive, telling themselves that love is only love, they have bonded on the purest level. Life is never really the same for either of them. Jacob saves enough money to visit her, but making love in her rented flat, seeing the sights together, and then saying bittersweet goodbyes only makes things worse.
Back home, he tries a radical approach, tossing her mail and erasing her text messages. He even falls for another girl (Jennifer Lawrence, from Winter’s Bone). Meanwhile, in London, Anna starts a relationship with a handsome neighbor. Nothing works. They can’t prune away their emotional attachment like a surgical procedure. She’s lonely and expressive. He’s a sensitive man in the body of a boy. Both of them are inexperienced but seasoned beyond their years. Marriage is proposed, but since she abused her travel permit, neither British immigration nor the U.S. Embassy will process their application for a marriage visa to enter the U.S. He stays in England, jeopardizing his career.
The visa for California finally comes through and they are together again, but the resolutions to the problems raised by the changes in their lives are yet to come. Will the emotional wedge between them widen? Can they ever feel the same after living a little, making sacrifices to their own ideals, and breaking a few hearts along the way (including their own)?
Director-writer Drake Doremus is a talent to watch—restrained, economical and breezy—with an uncanny ability to make familiar themes seem originally observed. He has a wonderful way with actors, his settings looked lived-in, the words in his screenplay (co-written with Ben York Jones) sound real and true. He’s a master of nuance. I’m told he kept the ending under wraps, even from the actors, until the first edit. The looks on their faces mirror myriad feelings, all of them exciting to observe.
Unlike most alleged Hollywood rom-coms, Like Crazy is delicate, uplifting and definitely worth investigating.