Friday, 24 August 2012
LIKE CRAZY ****
Having heard mixed reviews about LIKE CRAZY despite its festival acclaim (winning the 'Grand Jury Prize' at Sundance) I wasn't sure what to expect from director Drake Doremus' film.
Starring young British actress Felicity Jones as Anna and Anton Yelchin as Jacob (TERMINATOR SALVATION, STAR TREK) the film follows the triumphs and turmoil of the on/off relationship the pair share having met as students in LA. With its intimate plot, naturalistic low-key aesthetic and improvised dialogue LIKE CRAZY mines familiar romantic territory to that of other American indies such as IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS, BEFORE SUNRISE and perhaps most successfully BEFORE SUNSET.
The pacing is slow and to begin I found it difficult to engage with the characters. Undoubtedly, my age played a part as I felt removed from the lives of these two students and that their romance lacked gravitas. However, as the story progressed and the film began to broaden its canvass to include themes such as enforced separation, other loves, parents and isolation in a foreign country it slowly but surely got its hooks into me.
The cast is fantastic with the two leads having never been better despite the odd duff line and they are brilliantly supported by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Alex Kingston and Charlie Bewley. Soon these performances and the fact the film has the sense to make the other partners which crop up in the lives of Anna and Jacob likeable in their own right help to invest you in their predicament. Indeed, for every aspect of a relationship (long distance or otherwise) it misses it hits two more lending LIKE CRAZY a level of emotional authenticity far beyond my expectations.
The film's stylistic flourishes using lots of close-ups, lingering slow takes accompanied by repetitive minimalist instrumental music may not be to everyone's liking but I found the culminating effect to be quite enchanting. Moreover, the scenes shot on the London underground and the film's closing montage was enough to bring tears to my eyes.
The Count's Verdict: Possibly not for everyone and even with its flaws LIKE CRAZY repays the viewer what you put in. At its best LIKE CRAZY has moments where images and sound combine to resonate in a deeply emotive way. One of my genuine surprises of the year.