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Love Stinks

by Shawn Stone on November 30, 2011

Like Crazy
Directed by Drake Doremus

Take the above headline at face value: Like Crazy lifts the audience into the highest, most blissful delirium of love as experienced by a pretty young couple, and then tears their love to bits with dispassionate precision. It’s not jealousy or violence or fate that rips Jacob and Anna apart. It’s bureaucracy.

Anton Yelchin is Jacob and Felicity Jones (pictured) is Anna. He’s a graduate assistant and she’s an undergrad at an L.A. college; out of the blue, she writes him a long love letter and ends it with the assurance that she is not mentally unbalanced.

Given the title of the film, a viewer might immediately doubt her protest. But the filmmakers are just screwing with the audience: Anna is not crazy. Anna and Jacob, in fact, are wonderfully normal, and fall deeply for each other. The conflict is introduced when, upon graduation, the very British Anna overstays her student visa. When she finally does go home to mum, Anna discovers that she can’t get back into the United States to be with the very American Jacob. Thus, the first candidate for “crazy” is the Department of Homeland Security.

Then the filmmakers get into what Like Crazy is really about: the misery of separated lovers. The legal system screws up their relationship, and they in turn spread this to those around them—including the “replacements” that each finds for the other. It’s all convincingly real.

Yelchin and Jones are skilled, which makes their characters not always likable. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead are charming (and charmingly concerned) as Anna’s totally not uptight Brit parents, but Jennifer Lawrence is wasted as Sam, Jacob’s replacement girlfriend when Anna’s far away.

You have to hand it to filmmaker Drake Doremus. He’s made the anti-date, anti-true-love movie of the year. He also gives the ending away early: Watch how he frames the shots in the first-date scene.