Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead
Anyone who happened to see Drake Doremus’ Douchebag, a film clearly inspired by the early Duplass Brothers movie “The Puffy Chair,” may be shocked by the stark contrast his latest has despite remaining true to his indie roots.
It stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as Jacob and Anna, two young people who meet at school, but as their relationship blooms into love, it becomes obvious that when the semester is over, she is supposed to return to England. Instead, she decides to stay the summer, getting her into trouble with immigration for overstaying her visa making it impossible for her to return to the States. Jacob starts a furniture manufacturing business and hooks up with his pretty co-worker (played by no less than Jennifer Lawrence), but they continue to connect via the normal methods. He eventually breaks down and comes to visit Anna in London, and they do the most logical thing and get married, but suspicions and jealousy arise due to the amount of time that’s passed since they’ve been together.
It’s an amazing second film from Doremus, because it’s nothing at all like “Douchebag,” yet it remains very true to the use of improvised scenes to tell the story. Even so, it doesn’t feel like the typical “M*mblec*re” movie, feeling far more natural as it shows how a long distance relationship can be difficult even while the romantic bond between two individuals can be strong enough to overcome the hurdles that keep them apart.
What really drives the movie are the terrific performances by Yelchin, playing one of his most mature dramatic role to date, and relative newcomer Felicity Jones, both of whom truly make you believe in this couple’s relationship. The passage of time and the way Doremus chops up some of the longer scenes is one of the more intriguing aspects of the movie, because months might pass between one scene and the next. The fact that nearly five years passes from the time we meet them to the end is quite an impressive feat, especially for the make-up, hair and costume departments who are put through their paces in changing how these young actors look from one scene to the next.
It’s quite thrilling seeing their young love bloom and the playful nature of their relationships, but it does get fairly serious, not leaving a lot of room for levity other than the scenes with Anna’s parents, played by Oliver Muirhead and Alex Kingston, but their scenes feel just as natural as the ones with the leads.
Whether intended or not, Doremus makes an interesting statement about both the US and British immigration systems while proving that yeah, maybe even love has its impasses while trying to conquer all. The film also ends with one of those frustratingly ambiguous endings that seems to be in flavor these days.
“Like Crazy” is a refreshing look at love and how a long distance relationship can be handled in a way that doesn’t pander to the normal clichés found in cinematic love stories. It shows that Drake Doremus has arrived and he’s creating a new cinematic language that makes “Like Crazy” unlike any other movie you’re likely to see this year.
Look for more reviews and interviews from the Toronto International Film Festival over the next few days.