Susan Granger’s review of “Like Crazy” (Paramount Pictures)
Introduced as they’re preparing to graduate from a Los Angeles university, Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) meet in a media-studies class and fall passionately, wildly in love. She’s a British exchange student, studying journalism; he builds eclectic furniture. And they both love Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”
After an idyllic few months in California together, Anna’s student visa expires, so she must return to England. Problem is: desperately besotted Anna can’t bear to leave Jacob, so she recklessly decides to remain just a bit longer, even meeting his parents (Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead). But once she has violated the terms of her visa, she is not allowed back into the United States. Forced into leading separate lives and relying on texting, their relationship suffers. Back home, she blogs for a magazine and begins to date her straight-arrow neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley), while he’s enticed by an adoring co-worker named Sam
But then there are those 3 a.m. texts, declaring, “I miss you.”
It’s not quite clear why the separated lovers don’t Skype, which would be much more practical and rewarding for long-distance communication. It’s also never explained by Jacob doesn’t visit Anna in London more often or why he doesn’t simply move from Venice Beach to the UK to continue working his custom-made furniture business; seemingly aloof, he even refuses her parents’ offer of financial help during the transition.
Obviously under the influence of the French New Wave, indie director Drake Doremus (“Douchebag”), who co-wrote the concept with Ben York Jones, gave the actors a 50-page screenplay outline and encouraged them to improvise on it during the 22-day shoot on a $250,000 budget. While cinematographer John Guleserian’s giddy, hand-held digital camerawork has been artfully edited by Jonathan Alberts, the challenging narrative is, basically, unstructured and the unscripted dialogue tends toward banal. But the heart-breaking tempo is intoxicating, and pouty-lipped Felicity Jones and Russian-Jewish heartthrob Anton Yelchin deliver irresistible performances.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Like Crazy” is an ethereal, sometimes exasperating 7, an impulsive, impressionistic romance.