Like Crazy captures the mania of first love
Starring Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin. Rated PG. Opens Friday, November 18, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
The mania of first love is captured with perfect imperfection in Like Crazy, a striking first feature for writer-director Drake Doremus and a breakthrough vehicle for its shiny new stars.
Young Brit-TV veteran Felicity Jones makes an indelible mark as Anna, an articulate Englishwoman going to school in Los Angeles. One college classmate is Jacob (Russian-born Anton Yelchin, also terrific), a talented furniture designer to whom she takes a fancy. Their powerful mutual attraction (they both love Paul Simon!), depicted with the right amount of swooning grace, arrives just as her visa is about to expire. Her spontaneous decision about that will have a long-lasting effect on their relationship and the choices in their lives.
When Anna returns to London, it’s a major dilemma for Jacob, as his new business takes off quickly. And she lands her dream job, editing and writing for a trendy magazine. Soon, he’s entangled with a comely assistant (Winter Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna drifts into a dalliance with a handsome go-getter (New Moon’s Charlie Bewley) who lives down the hall. These new mates are perhaps better suited to our confused twosome, but they reverse the preferred power dynamic, which usually finds petulant Anna bossing around passive Jacob.
Doremus and cowriter Ben York Jones (both worked on Douchebag) let their leads improvise the dialogue. Some of this material, attended by some expected indie-rock mood setters, gets the arty-montage treatment. But much of it is thoughtfully and amusingly spoken, especially in scenes with Anna’s bohemian parents (sitcom staple Oliver Muirhead and ex-ER doc Alex Kingston), who seem most bothered when Anna’s new beau wants to curtail her drinking.
Too bad the adults aren’t around to tell Anna and Jacob that their tribulations are simple facts of life. To them, this stuff is everything; viewers over 30 may want to slap them around a little.
Watch the trailer for Like Crazy.