I generally rail on romance films, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. I enjoy the “quirky” ones that are smartly made and dealt with like (500) Days of Summer, or more realistic romantic dramas like the little known Peter and Vandy. The latest “quirky” romance is Like Crazy, a film that seeks to portray the realities of a couple trying to make it work long distance (not to be confused with the comedic version Going the Distance…really I’d have rather given that a shot). The story has good actors but is poorly made, poorly written and left me slapping my head and wanting to scream at the characters. A chance to be realistic turns into a pretentious hipster opus.
Anna (Felicity Jones) is an English student going to school in Los Angeles when she meets Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and the two immediately fall in love. Unfortunately, Anna has to return to England making the two question where their relationship will go. Makeup’s, breakups, and different lovers can’t seem to pull the two apart and they’re forced to figure out a way to be together.
Like Crazy is head-slap inducing, romance porn! It’s like Twilight only hold the angst and add two somewhat logical adults making one horrid decision after another. The problems are so blatant it shows the sloppy quality of the writing by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones. The two characters meet and fall in love through the use of montage. The movie has more montages than an Oscar telecast and is only used to propel the characters toward a short discussion scene before there’s another montage. Nothing about Anna or Jacobs’ relationship feels organic or genuine; it just seems that they have a lot of fun together. The montages play like a Gap or perfume ad, “Hey look at these two beautiful people. See how in LUV they are?” When the two actually get down to talking, and trying to formulate a coherent plan to be together it’s dealt in single sentences before they just look at each other. Doremus continues the pretension by showing single scenes of the characters standing before fading into a new scene of one character by themselves…don’t you feel their sadness?
It’s almost as if the writers and director assume the audience can’t figure out the emotion. Aside from the aforementioned montages there’s more “symbolism” seen when Anna’s bracelet that Jacob gave her breaks while she’s having sex with another man. I wonder if that means their relationship is broken…no it couldn’t be something THAT blatant. Playing Adele’s “Someone Like You” could have been this entire movie’s soundtrack which actually baffled me when it wasn’t in the movie, missed opportunity there to be even more “symbolic.”
I could almost buy their issues if the problems weren’t conceived so poorly. Anna originally can’t get a visa to stay in the US because she’s violated her student visa. Okay, then why doesn’t Jacob just move to England? According to him his business “is set up in Los Angeles.” The man makes furniture, English people don’t need furniture? I didn’t know Los Angeles was the furniture making capital of the world. Contrast to Anna who is a junior editor at a magazine, her moving to the US would have her starting from scratch which we see at the end…oh well her career isn’t that important obviously! Not to mention Anna is the only one whose family is shown, played by Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead. We never see anyone from Jacob’s side so she’s expected to move and leave her family behind as well.
I have a problem with the way this film ultimately portrays the female characters. Other than Anna there’s Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence) as Jacob’s assistant/girlfriend/chick he has sex with when Anna’s stuck in England. Her character is dumped and taken back only to be dumped again. It makes Jacob look like a world-class dick and we never learn anything about Samantha. We know she “loves” Jacob and keeps going back to him, but that’s it, there’s no depth. The same can be said about Anna’s love interest Simon (Charlie Bewley) who is also introduced with little depth only to have his heart smashed.
The problems get worse with a third act twist that’s outrageous and still leads to Anna and Jacob breaking up in about five minutes. I don’t know how they think they can devote their lives to each other when as soon as Anna gets bad news Jacob gets pissed at her. Now that I mention it the way Jacob is written makes him such an ass. Anton Yelchin is adorable and is trying hard to break out of his teen image but his character comes off like a pompous ass who keeps Anna held to him by a leash. Jones is also sweet but she spends too much time looking sad or sweet, sometimes simultaneously. By the end I didn’t ever, ever, get the feeling these two were truly in love. I felt they liked each other…A LOT, you know “like crazy” A LOT! Ain’t LUV grand, not with these two idiots!
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.