Year: 2011
Director: Drake Doremus
Writers: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Region of Origin: U.S.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 90 mins

Synopsis: A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she’s banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa. (Source)

Like Crazy is the most realistic depiction of reckless young love I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s not a date movie like you might expect, not a generic a-to-b romance with a tidy ending, but finally a movie that literally goes beyond the surface of such a relationship to ask, “what next?” It eloquently conveys the newness and reckless abandon of a go-for-broke romance before dragging you back, kicking and screaming, to show you the possible real life consequences of such a fairy tale. If that sounds pretty harsh, it is, but you should know that although the movie is brutally honest, it isn’t devoid of hope. While it’s as impossible to get a singular meaning out this film as it is to put the idea of “love” in a box, it’s still just as beautiful and innocent as, well, life. Upon first viewing, it’s the kind of movie that might rub you the wrong way, but it’s the kind of story that asks the tough questions that no one dares talk about in fear of ruining that perfect moment. That kind of movie.

Our story comes to us through two students named Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), who finally meet near their college graduation. Immediately the two fall inexplicably and completely under each other’s spell, not caring what will happen after graduation, even though Anna is in the country under a student visa. As the two inevitably have to face Anna’s return to her native UK, they’re faced with a decision in which the outcome will reverberate throughout the rest of their lives — and that’s just the first act. What follows is the pair’s painfully honest long-term relationship, which puts the movie’s first act under a microscope and attempts to expose all the “gory bits” (as one character puts it) while simultaneously championing its unbridled beauty.

As mentioned, director Drake Doremus’ alleged true tale (which feels too genuine to be written) is not at all the pretty and neat cliche that Hollywood usually delivers for the sake of a thrill. At first I took the movie as a cautionary tale about the danger of falling in love with the idea of being in love, and while I definitely think that’s a part of it, it’s really just scratching the surface. What it really does is paint a broader tableau about the consequences of being so wildly and madly in love, with both the good and the bad that exist therein. It also does a good job of portraying how that emotion affects you no matter what you do and no matter where you are. It’s the kind of raw nerve that’s both blindingly beautiful and the deepest, most piercing pain in your side. It does all this through a surprisingly mature voice and without the generic romance stereotypes or melodrama, making the movie feel very cathartic.

I really have to hand it to writer/director Drake Dormus and Yelchin/Jones for delivering a movie so real, you’ll feel as if you’ve lived it. It really reminds me of something we could’ve seen from Sofia Coppola in the way it so genuinely handles the sincere and raw doc style. Like Coppola, you really see between and, more importantly, feel every frame of the movie through cinematography that mimics the clarity or confusion of each character. Not a single second or spot of film is wasted, instead exposing its subject matter at its truest form. The chemistry between Yelchin and Jones is also worthy of praise, as it’s completely believable and the two flawlessly deliver heartfelt, heartbreaking and emotionally naked performances. Even Dustin O’Halloran’s haunting piano score is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve heard all year.

Fundamentally, Like Crazy subscribes to the idea that love is many different things to many different types of people and attempts to boldly challenge the way you think about it. Its brutal realism avoids being nihilistic or pessimistic, and while this movie definitely isn’t something you watch for fun, there’s a beauty to it that you should, unless you’re a cynic with a black heart, find utterly refreshing and hopeful.

Crome Rating: 4.3/5