When I first saw the advert for Like Crazy at the cinema in 2011 I was torn over whether I wanted to see it or not. I was going through a nasty breakup and was about to flee the country leaving my lost love behind and dragging my sorry self back to England. Did I really want to spend an hour a half watching a similar post university emotional train wreck? I decided against, and hence I’ve only just seen the film now – which I think was probably a good thing as it probably would have upset me a fair bit back in those dark days of recent separation. Let me tell you if you’ve never been through it – there’s a reason the love sick puppies in this film are rarely without a drink in their hand.
I also held off on watching this at the cinema because I had my suspicions about it as well, it had the potential to be just a bit too saccharine and unbearable. Did I really want to watch one of those couples (you know the ones) on screen for an hour and a half? Really? Was I going to do that to myself? I had a feeling this film was either going to cut to the quick – absolutely nail all that love sick anguish, or it was going to be a chick flick hatchet job – and I was erring on the side of the latter.
I was wrong, obviously. And it was great. The clothes were great, the atmosphere was right, it was beautifully shot; good work Drake Doremus. Like Crazy is the story of Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Anna is the English rose on an exchange year in LA, and Jacob is the handsome young American classmate she falls for. Perfect honeymoon romance ensues, Anna overstays her student visa, goes home, tries to get back into America, gets deported, nightmare begins. Lots of backwards and forwards – ing, physically (for Jacob) and mentally (for both), heartbreak, unhappiness and confusion.
There are a lot of things in this film that I found to be very real and raw, and I think this was a big part it’s charm for me – I can relate to these characters. The improvised dialogue is great, shots taken from outside doorways – as if you are a real spectator – work very well. But it’s more than that; I know these people. I know the people who went on exchange to the west coast. I know people who came on exchange from the west coast. I know a couple who could have been negatives of Anna and Jacob. He met his girlfriend at Oxford when she was on an exchange year from New York, perpetual saving for flights began and the pain radiated outwards. You wouldn’t wish long distance relationships on your worst enemies. This is just an example of one couple I know, I could give more. Universities are responsible for this one, freedom to move around as a student is great – until you fall in love and your visa expires. Then it’s just a ticking time bomb to misery.
So the mechanics of it all looked real to me, all apart on one thing; the money. That’s the kicker. My friend and his american eventually had to (very painfully) call it quits because they just couldn’t afford their relationship, and it was ruining them, emotionally as well as financially. Anna has a deep well of financial stability behind her, being able to spend the summer in LA in the first place, to have an internship in London, to have a lawyer to smooth over her visa mistake, to be able to offer to fly Jacob out . . . this is beyond the realms of most people I know, and that’s where the film fell down a bit for me. Jacob (who incidentally cannot draw AT ALL) rents an uber cool MASSIVE loft to run his immediately very successful furniture business from, and the money will come from somewhere to support Anna when she eventually moves in without a job. It’s another film about hipster rich kids and their difficult lives (I’m thinking of Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture here). Anna and Jacob’s situation is hard, but from my perspective, if it had been me in that situation it would have been a whole lot fucking harder because the logistics just would not have been affordable. Full stop. (At least on a hugely international scale where long distance flights and visas are concerned, within Europe it would be possible).
On the whole though . . . I liked it a lot. Relationships change and develop, and so do people – it’s difficult to make things work when the components are so unstable, and that’s before you add an ocean to the mix. It’s difficult to pin down the complexity of a relationship in a film, but all involved make a surprisingly good job of it here.