The doomed romance "Like Crazy" creates an increasing sense of tension, a tightening in your gut. It makes you squirm in your seat — not because the angst of the young love depicted on screen is so vivid and relatable, but because these two people are so incredibly annoying together, you'd much rather see them apart.
Actually, the scenes in which Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are living separate lives in different cities — on different continents with an ocean dividing them — make more sense. Sure, they had their fun, but clearly it's not going to work, so it's time to move on. Live and learn. Sunrise, sunset.
But no, this is supposed to be a cosmic first love that transcends all reason, so writer-director Drake Doremus keeps shoving them back together, keeps finding strained ways for their lives to intertwine.
Yelchin and Jones do have some chemistry early on, though, in the halcyon glow of their blossoming relationship. He plays Jacob, a Los Angeles college student. She plays Anna, a British classmate of his who's here on a student visa. They fall hard and fast and in no time they're reciting poetry and making scrapbooks and furniture for each other. It's all very gooey and emo.
But then, the morning Anna is supposed to fly back to London because her visa has run out, she decides she'll just stay. She knows she's supposed to return, if only for a couple of months, but that's too long for her and Jacob to be apart. They're young and in love — the rules shouldn't apply! So she sticks around for one more blissful summer, with some serious consequences.
From here, "Like Crazy" traces the various text messages and terse conversations, missed connections and misplaced anger that plague these two as they try to navigate the complicated immigration system. Their exchanges frequently turn pouty and mopey for no good reason; it's no fun to be in that kind of relationship yourself, but watching two other people behave this way is even more agonizing.
And it all might have been vaguely poignant if the reason for their estrangement weren't so avoidable. All Anna had to do was get on a plane, miss her boyfriend for a couple of months, and then return safely and happily. Either she's a) too stupid to recognize the danger of her actions or b) too much of a selfish, impetuous child to care, but whatever the answer, it's hard to root for her and for them to reunite ultimately.
During one of their many breakup periods, they start dating other people, which is actually preferable. After graduation and once he's launched a furniture design company in his industrial downtown loft, Jacob gets involved with the young woman who works for him played by Jennifer Lawrence (who also happened to play his girlfriend earlier this year in "The Beaver"). And right then and there it's like: movie's over. He could either date this beautiful, smart, cool girl who just happens to live in the same city, or he can pine for some glum, passive-aggressive chick eight time zones away who peeks at his cellphone during the rare times when they are together. The answer seems clear.
"Like Crazy" was a favorite at this year's Sundance Film Festival, winning the dramatic grand jury prize as well as a special award for Jones' performance. I find that warm reception baffling. And lest you assume that I'm cold and crusty and don't remember what it's like to fall in love, I wrote this review on my 14th wedding anniversary.
"Like Crazy," a Paramount Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language. Running time: 89 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G — General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG — Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 — Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R — Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 — No one under 17 admitted.