by Ryan Hill
First love can be messy. Painful. Powerful. It can be impossible to let go of and just plain crazy. Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” captures the emotions attached to first love, but little else.
Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) are college students who meet while in class and, in true first-love fashion, Anna leaves a note on Jacob’s car explaining her infatuation with him. This would have been fine in high school, but it was a bit creepy from a college student – the first of many signs that the main characters are somewhat immature. Regardless, Jacob and Anna go out and fall madly in love.
Anna, who is from England and is studying abroad, is so in love with Jacob the idea of going back home for two months to get her visa straightened out is too much to bear. Ultimately she violates her visa and customs won’t let her back in the country. This is where problems begin not only for Jacob and Anna, but also the film itself.
Once the two lovers are separated, “Like Crazy” details the deterioration of a relationship caused by extreme distance, to the point that they explore other relationships, most notably Jacob, who lives with his coworker, played by Jennifer Lawrence.
Sure, Jacob and Anna keep in touch via text messaging and phone calls, but neither can fully participate in their own lives because of the gap they’ve left in each other. Jacob visits Anna in England, and immediately realizes she’s created a new life that doesn’t leave a room for him. And yet the wheel keeps spinning around and around for Jacob and Anna.
The couple continues their on-again, off-again relationship for an unspecified period of time, and all the while “Like Crazy” gets increasingly frustrating. Director Doremus, who based the film on his own experiences, probably wanted to evoke the heartbreak these two are going through, but instead questions keep arising that go unanswered.
If Jacob loves Anna so much, why not marry her? Why not move to England, at least until the visa situation is sorted out? The worst thing is both Jacob and Anna seem better suited for the other people with whom they’re in relationships, but again this gets glossed over. These questions kill the second half of the film and almost ruin some great performances, especially from Felicity Jones.
Jones is a firecracker on the screen, full of life and energy and it’s easy to see why Jacob falls for her in the first place. Even the judges at the Sundance Film Festival fell for Jones’s performance, awarding her a Special Jury Prize for acting. Jennifer Lawrence, who’s about to become a household name with the upcoming adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games,” makes the most of her time on screen, but unfortunately she’s woefully underused.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival, “Like Crazy” may go on to garner more nominations, at least for Felicity Jones. However, as much as the film succeeds at capturing the roller coaster of emotions that come with first love, the film’s messy plot and even worse ending cheats the audience out of what could have been a powerful film about not only first love, but love in general.
Grade: 2 out of 4
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language
Cast: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
Studio: Paramount Vantage