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A surprisingly sweet and candid look at the problematic nature of young love, "Like Crazy" is a sturdy romantic showcase for Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, two actors who share an undeniable sensual chemistry. Co-writer/director Drake Doremus (“Douchebag”) shuffles off his dubious mumblecore beginnings to cast a fairly credible light on the kinds of mistakes young lovers the world over are doomed to make.
There's a purity to this dynamic chamber piece of romantic crossed wires that transcends generations of lovers from time immemorial.
Yelchin plays Jacob, a nerdy Los Angeles college student with plans to start his own furniture design company. His first design, for a chair, proves a significant token of affection when he gives one to Anna with an inscription on its underside that gives the film its title. He's the kind of smart, well-meaning young man you can't help but root for. Anna (Felicity Jones) is a British foreign exchange student with a talent for writing. She's every bit as ambitious as he is, and has a sardonic wit to back it up. Anna plans on becoming a magazine editor.
Then, life intrudes on the couple's perfect summer of relentless sex. Anna's student visa is running out. A flawed last-minute decision to flout the law and remain in the U.S. causes several years’ worth of strife the lovers must endure after Anna finally returns to Britain. A long-distance relationship allows for the inevitability of other petals of romance to blossom. Jennifer Lawrence makes her diabolically sensual presence felt as Sam, a passionate young woman who falls in love with Jacob while helping with his business.
Anna forms her own valentine distraction with Simon (Charley Bewley), an all-too-sincere British pretty boy in a hurry to put a ring on Anna's twitchy finger. An important subplot involving Anna's parents provides a context of adult supervision to the erratic directions Anna and Jacob take in order to be together.
Realistic situations and volleys of choked-back dialogue soak the viewer in romantic quicksand. Tempers flare in truthful ways rarely shown on film. Ambivalence and mixed emotions rear their ugly heads. Quick cuts and time-shifting sequences help tell the story from fly-on-the-wall angles which evince a voyeuristic sensibility. No matter how much two people want, or think they want, to be together there are always a thousand variables of practical reality that can crash the party at any moment. So goes the undeniable logic of this refreshing romantic drama. "Like Crazy" is not without its flaws, but the overall effect far outweighs its occasional undernourished subplots.
Rated PG-13. mins.