'Like Crazy' is a film about the little moments. The ones we remember when we're saying goodbye, or missing an embrace, or losing something we thought (and maybe wished) we had. It's a film of collected moments; of love, happiness, heartbreak, success and failure. It's a film about how it feels to be in love; how beautiful, intense, addictive and debilitating love can be, but how necessary it is for us to experience as we get older and start sorting out our lives.
For his third feature (and second consecutive one in competition at Sundance), writer-director Drake Doremus delivers what will probably go down as one of the best of the fest; an extremely personal, passionate and exceptionally well-crafted story starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as two kids who fall hard for one another, but find their perfect relationship tested when forced apart for long periods at a time. 'Like Crazy' continues the trend of solid, aggressively entertaining relationship movies born out of festivals like 'Blue Valentine' and '500 Days of Summer,' but in my opinion this is the best of the three, and a film you'll need to see when it hits theaters later this year.
It doesn't take long for Jacob (Yelchin) and Anna (Jones) to hit it off, and it doesn't take long for us to care about where it's heading. Doremus crafts a story that pops as it moves, consistently shifting from one moment to the next as Jacob and Anna become each other's everything until they both graduate college and she's forced to move back home to London. When she decides to risk violating her visa by spending the entire summer with Jacob, the repercussions of her violation slowly infiltrate their budding relationship, creating a roller coaster ride that spans the next few years.
Doremus really stretches his legs as a filmmaker with 'Like Crazy,' delivering not only his best film to date, but one that immediately makes you want to see more from a guy who's bound to make waves in Hollywood from here on out. Plot points that should feel tired and worn just explode with color and creative energy. When Anna decides to stay for the summer, Doremus brings us "their summer" via a gorgeous montage full of quick shots of the duo lying in bed together. The pacing is exceptional, with Doremus showing incredible restraint, creating characters who say so much more with their eyes than their mouths.
And then there's the way he captures those moments we all share in our relationships; those small, intimate, soul-crushing moments that shape us and make us. Like when Anna and Jacob sit across from one another on the way to the airport to send Jacob back home. The way they watch each other, long for each other and at the same time begin to disconnect from one another all with their eyes and lips, followed by the way she stares at the empty chair across from her on the way home, emotionally spent and defeated. It's brilliant and devastating, further punctuated by the tremendous performances, especially from newcomer Felicity Jones.
It's a powerful film, to say the least, and it will most likely destroy those who've had experience with a long distance relationship. But Doremus makes it so warm, comfortable and full of humorous moments (special kudos to Anna's scene stealing parents, played by the always wonderful Alex Kingston and Oliver Murihead) that it's hard not to feel good after watching a movie that makes you feel so bad. That's a true sign of great storytelling, and more than enough reason to champion Drake Doremus and 'Like Crazy' throughout the year.