Like Crazy (PG-13) ★★★½

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are featured in this scene from DreamWorks Pictures'

Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) in “Like Crazy.” Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Raw, Intoxicating, Impulsive, Fresh…Crazy

Theaters today are filled with repetitive, abundant and predictable rom-coms. In contrast, “Like Crazy” is a breath of fresh air. Director Drake Doremus’ Sundance Award winning film depicts a unique look at the raw, emotional rollercoaster of love, or something like it. Is this what love is supposed to feel like? How do you know for sure? If not love, what is it?

Budding actors Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones ask themselves those very same questions while trying to dodge every roadblock in their path. Audiences will be amazed at Doremus’ ability to capture such an intense, authentic and intoxicating relationship with so little narrative. Purposefully vague, with an underdeveloped plot, the noteworthy acting coupled with the intricate camera work tells it all. As an audience, we feel like a fly on the wall, witnessing the troubled couple’s most intimate moments. Curiosity strikes us and we are immediately taken on a wild ride, jostling back and forth between heartache and euphoria.

While attending college in Los Angeles, Jacob (Yelchin), a local Californian with dreams of becoming a furniture designer, meets a free spirited British exchange student, Anna (Jones), after she places a note on his windshield. The passionate relationship begins at an intense high point with giddiness and flirtatious grins.

Unfortunately, what goes up must come down. One summer, Anna impulsively decides to overstay her visa. This decision will incessantly haunt her. Soon after, Anna finds herself in a small white room, face to face with immigration officials. Unable to return to the U.S., her overseas relationship with Jacob produces many waves.

With the help of Doremus’ exceptional direction and co-written screenplay (based off of his own experiences), it’s easy to care about Anna and Jacob, whose distinctive yet equally honest and relatable characters are hard to resist. Much of the dialogue is impressively improvised, which enhances the rawness of their roles. Even so, since verbal interaction is limited, some scenes seem repetitive and slow. The screen time of the supporting cast (including Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley) is minimal. Lawrence had a break out role in last year’s “Winter’s Bone,” while Bewley is known for his role as Demetri in “The Twilight Saga” films. Perhaps more interaction with side characters would have lessened the redundancy. There’s good use of symbolism throughout the film that’s worth noticing.

The film’s indie-pop soundtrack is a nice mix, featuring Stars, M83, Dustin O’Halloran and even some classic Paul Simon. Simon was the artist that Anna and Jacob bonded over almost immediately upon meeting. His appropriately titled song, “Crazy Love” is upbeat, yet laid back, a perfect companion for a day drive or walk through town.

Love (or at least what we think is love) can be incredibly complicated and simple all in the same day, which Doremus has successfully depicted. Anna summarizes it best during a narration part in the film, “I thought I understood it. But I didn’t, not really – only the smudginess of it, the neediness of it, the idea of it. Of you and me.”

Perhaps it is the uncertainty of it all that makes this film so powerful, hence the title.

Bottom Line: Jones’ contagious smile will capture the hearts of many in this artsy-indie style film – a relatable, honest, blissful, heartbreaking and unique love story. The up and coming cast coupled with remarkable direction is also worth noting.

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Chris Messina, Finola Hughes, Ben York Jones, & Jamie Thomas King

Writing Credits: Drake Doremus & Ben York Jones

Director: Drake Doremus

Running Time: 90 minutes

Studio: Paramount Vantage and Indian Paintbrush; A Super Crispy Entertainment Jonathan Schwartz/Andrea Sperling Production

Jessica Aymond © January 3, 2012