Wednesday, April 1, 2015

‘Like Crazy': Sweet and revealing

Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) can’t get enough of each other, as their relationship blossoms; they hunger for the intimacy of every shared moment. The question, though, is what will happen when circumstances interrupt this courtship at its most fragile juncture: the point when infatuation ordinarily would transition into deep, abiding love. Courtesy photo

From page A11 | November 18, 2011 |

“Like Crazy”

Four stars

Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Charlie Bewley

Rating: PG-13, for sexual candor and fleeting profanity

Raw, painfully vulnerable intimacy has become a calling card in recent indie dramas, with 2008’s “Rachel Getting Married” and last year’s “Blue Valentine” setting a very high bar.

Those films now are joined by “Like Crazy,” a poignant and richly drawn study of young love and the cruel toll extorted by unfortunate timing. Director Drake Doremus — who co-scripted this alternately charming and heartbreaking courtship saga with Ben York Jones — has a masterful eye for the little moments and small, spontaneous gestures that inform a relationship.

Better still, this story is beautifully depicted by stars Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, who wholly inhabit characters that look, sound and move like smitten couples we’ve all known in the apartment next door.

Jones and Yelchin share chemistry, impeccable timing and an engaging, naturalistic closeness that transcends the artifice of acting; at times we feel like we’re eavesdropping on something intensely personal.

That said, Doremus’ pacing is slow at times, and his directorial flourishes occasionally overwhelm the emotions bared in this quiet, delicate little charmer. Many of Doremus’ pacing and editing touches are brilliant; others — such as his jump cuts in early scenes — are merely irritating. But he does establish an engaging narrative flow, and Felicity Jones and Yelchin ensure that we’ll be drawn into the story.

Jacob (Yelchin) and Anna (Jones) meet during a college class. He’s intrigued by the intelligent, provocatively worded essay she reads aloud; she notices his doodles of chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture. He’s a California native; she’s an exchange student from London.

They flirt, meet for coffee. Right here, the film’s core strength becomes evident: This awkward, sorta-kinda first date is punctuated by the weird non-sequiturs we all slip into such conversations, when not wanting to reveal too much of ourselves too quickly, but at the same time wanting to come across as, well, brilliant and perfect.

John Guleserian’s camerawork catches all the essential details: Anna’s shy, nervous expressions; Jacob’s somewhat more self-assured replies. (What guy wouldn’t be pleased by the attention of such an intelligent and attractive young woman?)

They easily slip into the giddy early days of a relationship: the free-spirited outings; the initial tingling frisson of those first kisses; the eventual sweet, mutual surrender late at night, as the lights go out.

He makes her a chair; Jones’ squeal of delight — of total, enchanted surprise — could melt steel. She makes him a book of shared memories from their time together: tickets, receipts, photographs and other ephemera, all catalogued with her captivating, adoring prose.

This is Love writ large: infectious, overwhelming, breathtaking.

He meets her parents — Jackie and Bernard (Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead) — when they fly overseas for a brief visit. Mother and father recognize the glow of happiness in their only child; the next step seems inevitable.

But Anna’s student visa is scheduled to expire at the end of this academic term. She and Jacob anticipate the moment bravely; her parents point out that the separation will last only a few months. But at the last moment, Anna panics and impulsively overstays her visa.

This story is contemporary; the harsh realities of our post-9/11 world dictate what happens next. When Anna does return to England a bit later in the summer — just a quick week, to attend a wedding — she’s stopped at LAX after her return flight. There are no appeals; she’s bounced back to England, with Jacob left on the other side of all those security walls, not even granted a brief glimpse of the woman he loves.

OK, fine: not the end of the world. Although Anna has been declared persona non grata in the United States, nothing prevents Jacob from visiting her in London. But he lacks her financial resources, and besides, his new career as a furniture designer is taking off, as is her career as a junior writer at a high-tone British magazine.

Time passes; life … intrudes. Jacob does make a trip overseas, but it feels artificial, like he and Anna are simply “vacationing” their relationship. But they also can’t let go. They’re caught between hard choices and constant bad timing: ships that repeatedly pass in the night, despite gallant attempts by one or both to correct course.

We sense a nascent spark between Anna and Simon (Charlie Bewley), a neighbor in an adjoining flat. Jacob’s fledgling business expands enough to warrant the arrival of a new employee, Sam (Jennifer Lawrence). Does Jacob abandon the dream first? Does Anna? Or do they both simply contemplate substitute relationships?

Doremus’ enchanting, effervescent first act segues into the aching frustration of the saga’s second and third acts. I’m not sure one can claim to “enjoy” what follows, although the film becomes, if anything, even more persuasively credible, the dialogue that much more authentic.

The on again/off again nature of Jacob and Anna’s liaison inevitably produces collateral damage. Lawrence — so fine in last year’s “Winter’s Bone,” and soon to star in the film adaptation of “The Hunger Games” — is achingly vulnerable as Sam.

Bewley isn’t quite as successful as Simon, whose character is revealed less by thespic talent and more by Doremus’ creative montages in the flat he eventually shares with Anna.

Kingston and Muirhead are note-perfect as Anna’s parents; watch their expressions as Jackie and Bernard clock their daughter’s behavior with Simon, as compared to how she acts around Jacob. Kingston, in particular, has a marvelous, silent scene as mother stares at daughter, and we can hear the unspoken words: “Oh, darling, what a mess you’ve made of things …”

“Like Crazy” is laden with such deeply intimate moments. Most come from the rich performances; others are conveyed through Doremus’ creative montages and Jonathan Alberts’ inventive editing.

Dustin O’Halloran’s spare, evocative, piano-based score is the final graceful touch: the perfect complement to the highs and lows of this tender, fragile love affair. You can’t help being charmed.

And crushed, by turns.

— Read more of Derrick Bang’s film criticism at Comment on this review at



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Funding sought for slain vet student’s pets

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Next-generation GMOs: Pink pineapples and purple tomatoes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Dismal snowpack gets one more measure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Woodland Library’s community room reopens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Museum celebrates Easter with candy-filled eggs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Easter egg hunt set Sunday at Atria

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    AquaMonsters open summer registration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Odd Fellows will host a big birthday bash

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Tamblyn presents a comedy concert

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Cancer fighters will gather Saturday for Relay For Life kickoff

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Poet laureate emerita celebrates at book-release party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    UCD gets grant to look at open access to published research

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    ‘Sip and Shop’ kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    AARP’s free tax-prep services continue

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Pain management lecture slated April 8

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Seniors invited to join new social group

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

    Pence Gallery: See artists at work during Garden Tour

    By Natalie Nelson | From Page: A10 | Gallery



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    Shootings showed need for MRAP

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Program sparks lots of questions

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Is Davis on the cusp of an evolutionary change?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: B4

    Will containers block cyclists’ path?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    We have no room for another cart

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    This is no way to run a city

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Get informed on organics program

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bicycle bells are my birthday wish

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Groom’s parents overwhelmed

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Aggies get ready for Hawaii by rolling over St. Mary’s

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UC Davis represents well at Final Four in Indiana

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Descalso looks back at Aggie days, ahead to new Rockies gig

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devils drop softball game at CBS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    JV/frosh roundup: DHS younger girls soccer squad stomps Grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Nunez powers Aggies to softball win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Gibson’s heroics ensure a DHS split at Boras Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B10



    Spring is a busy time for honey and hives

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery



    Bluesman and guitarist Buddy Guy comes to Davis

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Fiery bluesman brings guitar pyrotechnics to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery