I just saw Like Crazy last night and, stupid title aside, really liked it.
In a nutshell: this is the story of a boy and a girl: Jacob and Anna. Jacob and Anna go on a date, fall in love, all is well. And then Anna has to go and violate the terms of her student visa (because: love), and is barred from re-entering the states. Forever.
The next hour is spent as a meditation on the possibility of love surviving across an ocean, metaphorical or otherwise. Upon being refused entry, Anna and Jacob are barred from pursuing a life together by things bigger than the Atlantic–things like maturity, careers, other people. All these eventually loom larger than the time and space they regularly transcend, all for the sake of what at the end barely even resembles what it initially was.
In the vein of similar films providing a “real” perspective–think Blue Valentine and All the Real Girls, none of that Garden State shit–Like Crazy takes a sobering look at young love and long distance relationships, without the soaring violins and overwrought sentimentality. You could argue that love stories are supposed to represent different relationships, and that the narrative extends into how no relationship is the same, but representations in pop culture would beg to differ. While maintaining the whole “real” aesthetic, it forgoes the shaky handheld cameras and *mumble mumble mumble* for softly focused shots and beautiful editing, framing the narrative from the perspective of any young couple intoxicated by a cocktail of novelty, longing, and youth.
All this is accomplished in such a way that even if you feel like kicking Jacob (Anton Yelchin) in the face for picking Toofy O’verbite (Felicity Jones) over Jennifer Lawrence (WHO DOES THAT?), you get it somehow. It just seems wholly possible because of everything that preceded that point in the narrative wherein Jacob flies to London and picks Anna over Sam (spoilers, sorry). It’s possible because these two spent a majority of the movie just missing each other, and anyone who’s ever missed anyone just has to root for them. Even with Jennifer Lawrence in the picture.
Momentary infatuation and lust factor heavily into the bitter conclusions most love stories arrive at. But how much of the blame can be placed on the temporary insanity wrought by simply missing someone. And by “simply missing”, Like Crazy sheds light on how absence makes it possible to break people down to their most basic components. Mundane seemingly inconsequential details – wisps of hair, the way light falls on people’s faces, wine selections – are blown into overromanticized proportions, thus cutting all the less flattering parts out of the frame, and proving that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
I don’t think I’ve seen enough movies that really explore what it’s like to be held hostage by someone who isn’t even there–especially when that someone happens to be the one thing that makes your life interesting and, in some respect, is the sole reason for your existence. Maybe it’s because not enough people get into long-distance relationships to really communicate what it means to be in one; but how can this even be true in this day and age? Throughout the film, Jacob and Anna are constantly checking their phones, missing each other’s calls, and apologizing. Minor errors become missed opportunities, turning long distance into an exercise in overestimating connection while underestimating actual communication. Maintenance in itself is equal parts working and waiting, wherein both parties remain consumed by whatever remains of a love that is physically absent. Even if it all adds up to a few hours on Skype a day and a random text here and there, the logistics are enough to change what it means to take up space in someone’s life.
I just didn’t expect to like this movie. I mean, it’s called Like Crazy. That’s probably the best thing about it, though.