First love is intense and complicated, and this general theme is what runs through Like Crazy, the Sundance Film Festival darling, now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Directed and co-written by Drake Doremus (Douchebag, Spooner), his latest outing features much more likable characters than his previous movies, in the form of Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones).
opens with Jacob and Anna meeting at school and quickly bonding over similar likes and opinions. The two strike up a blossoming romance complete with hand holding, weekends in bed and gifts in the form of personal things like a handcrafted chair.
The only problem to this young courtship is that Jacob is an American citizen in L.A. and Anna is only on a student visa from the U.K. A plan is set into motion where Anna will return home for a bit, get a new visa and come back to her soul mate. But the day she is expected to leave Jacob, she can’t bring herself to follow through and overstays her visa.
When Anna goes home for an extended stay and tries to enter back into the U.S., she is detained and sent straight back to her homeland, much to Jacob’s horror and confusion. He visits her and her family in England, and they work to find a solution, but this isn’t a quick fix, and the two are forced to spend most of their time countries away.
Though the two love birds try to maintain a long distance love affair, the time difference paired with each of them starting new careers proves to be difficult. Jacob has started a small business in L.A. where he puts those chair-making skills to good use, and Anna continues working her way up at a magazine company.
The distance and differences in their lives proving too much to handle, the two somewhat amicably break up as Anna’s visa is still going through the long and intense process to clear her for stateside residence. Jacob begins a simple relationship with coworker Sam (Jennifer Lawrence), and Anna finds comfort in the arms of her neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley).
While continuing their lives in opposite spots of the world, a shadow is forever cast on any activity or relationship that the two participate in as they longingly and sporadically text one another and continue the thoughts of “what if?”
Both Sam and Simon know all too well that they are sharing their significant other with a stranger, but they remain hopeful that this feeling will pass. Jacob and Anna are stubborn, though, and they continue overseas flirtation and wishful thinking throughout the film.
The reason that Like Crazy is so watchable is the performances, led by Yelchin (Star Trek, Charlie Bartlett) and Jones (The Tempest). It’s difficult for the audience to not root for these two to overcome their obstacles and beat the odds to find a happily ever after, even if it might not be realistic. With little dialogue, the two play off of each other nicely and consistently use their vulnerability to the characters’ advantages.
With Lawrence about to blow up this year with her Hunger Games debut, it’s amusing to see her play such a backseat to the other actors in a low-key yet pivotal role. Bewley (The Twilight Saga) is also effective as the entertainment that Anna finds in her England life.
Engaging performances aside, Like Crazy suffers from a sense that this couple isn’t really as “crazy” about each other in a realistic and normal way as they want to be. The beginning of their courtship is a whirlwind of innocent conversations and similarities that rarely go beyond superficial things. Yet, these attributes keep the two entangled in a messy and convoluted love battle for years and years.
But with young love and the irrational side of it, perhaps that is the point and exactly what Doremus was trying to achieve with his mostly improvised movie. In many ways, Anna and Jacob are completely wrong for one another, but they just can’t let go of that puppy dog feeling they once exuded towards each other.
What’s refreshing about Like Crazy is the un-glossy and raw look at these two through their highest moments of triumph to their lowest, most painful ones, and with the film mostly taking place in apartments, houses and rooms, the couple are nearly always found in their most intimate instances. This portrayal is not the fancy side to courtship seen in TV and movies these days, and it definitely makes one have a whole new understanding and appreciation for the complex immigration laws in place.
Keeping the film moving, rather seamlessly, as it jumps from year to year is the great soundtrack, containing songs from Dustin O’Halloran, Paul Simon and Fool’s Gold.
The DVD version of Like Crazy (Paramount Home Media Distribution, MSRP: $29.99) is pretty bare bones, featuring only an audio commentary by director Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts and cinematographer John Guleserian. The three mostly discuss shooting locations, editing choices to cut the film’s length and keeping the movie PG-13 rather than it receiving an R rating (they wanted to make it accessible to the teen audience).
The three also discuss the actors’ contributions to the script and story, and this commentary would work a lot better if Yelchin and Jones had joined in to discuss the improvisation and their full experience on the film. Without them, the talk remains a little more technical than the casual viewer will enjoy.
Oddly missing from the DVD is the movie’s own trailer—the commentary really is the only bonus feature. On the Blu-ray version (MSRP: $39.99) of the home entertainment release, however, fans can enjoy a handful of deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary. Some of these scenes are actually discussed on the commentary track but not shown, but nothing seems too interesting or noteworthy to the story.
The honesty of Like Crazy’s story, its direction and the earnest performances by all four young cast members make the movie a recommended watch, but the DVD version lacks anything special or new for the fans.
Like Crazy is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.