It’s impossible to watch Like Crazy and not think about the nature of young love—or perhaps the nature of your own first love. It captures those very specific sensations—the thrill of your partner’s otherness, mingling with the thrill of finding you have so much in common. The giddiness, the possessiveness, the solipsistic charge of it all. And it captures the unique sensuality of young love—two bodies almost cocooning together, as if they could tuck away inside each other, protected from all the sorrows and troubles of the world.
More specifically, Like Crazy tells the story of college students Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones). She wants to be a journalist and is prone to writing discursive notes and filling journals with photos and poems and observations. He wants to be a furniture maker and is sweet and indie-boy shy. She boldly leaves a note on the hood of his car (“p.s.-I’m not a nutcase!”) and they spend the night in her room discussing life and music and the perfection of Paul Simon’s Graceland.
These opening scenes are so intimate, you almost feel like a voyeur. When Anna scribbles a note to Jacob and he scribbles one back, we are not privy to what the notes say, but we don’t necessarily feel like we should be. (It’s none of our business!) They don’t kiss that first night, but there’s a gorgeous scene where they touch hands from opposite sides of a glass door. We’ve seen this kind of scene before, but not like that—their looks say it all: We should’ve kissed, we regret that we didn’t, but, oh, we most certainly will.
There are two snags, one perhaps more immediate than the other. Snag one: Anna is from London and is attending college in U.S. on a temporary visa. Snag two: Obsessive, all-consuming, I’m-going-to-die-without-you young love is about as permanent as the polar icecaps.
Eventually, Anna must go back to London and they try the long-distance love affair thing. There are hurt feelings, things unsaid, miscommunication from 2,000 miles apart. She begins working for a magazine; he starts a successful furniture-building business; they have other lovers (he dates an assistant at his shop played by Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence; she dates an upstanding fellow from her building), although they never fall completely out of touch—or love.
I so appreciated the fact that Anna has warm, gloriously weird, and extremely supportive parents, played by Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead. It would have been so facile to set up her parents as foil characters, but this film lives in a much more nuanced place.
In my mind, Like Crazy has three stars. There are the two young actors, of course, who do tender, raw, and wonderfully honest work. And then there’s writer/director Drake Doramus, who fills his film with visual poetry and palpable yearning. In one such scene, Anna and Jacob are on the London subway, sitting across from each other, on their way to Heathrow. They smile back and forth sadly—the scene is shot in the dark and light flashes of underground tunnels. Then the light flashes again and Anna is by herself: Jacob has gone back to the States—again. She sits forlornly, contemplating her solitude. We feel her pain, cry for her lost love—and, possibly, our own.