When I heard about Like Crazy at the beginning of this year, as it was doing well at Sundance, I knew I wanted to see it. And, then, when the trailer came out this summer, I knew I had to see it. So, last week, see it I did.
As with everything you have high expectations for in life, it turned out to be slightly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very good film; I just expected it to be a bit better.
So, let’s start with the good things. All the actors were excellent. I’ve read that the film’s dialogue was largely improvised, and I’m impressed with what they came up with. Felicity Jones, as Anna, was definitely the MVP of the movie. Jones was so good at conveying all the ups and downs Anna went through – from the giddiness of initial love to the confusion at being apart, and a million other emotions in between. I liked Anton Yelchin, as Jacob, as well, but he just didn”t come off as powerfully as Jones did. He was solid, but his performance didn’t make much of an impression on me.
The actors who played Anna and Jacob’s other love interests did a fine job as well. Though it was odd to see Jennifer Lawrence in such a small role, she made the most of the thankless task of playing the “other woman.” And Charlie Bewley, as Simon, was really endearing. At one point (I won’t spoil it) I felt like watching him was like watching a puppy get kicked – he was so eager and lovable that I felt terribly sad for him.
The other thing I loved about this movie was its depiction of the love story. The one thing I’ve read and heard – over and over again – was that the movie provides an extremely realistic depiction of love. I think that’s true. It’s hard to explain, but the thing I enjoyed most about it is embodied in something the character of Anna says, “I thought I understood it. But I didn’t. I knew the smudgeness of it. The eagerness of it. The idea of it. Of you and me.”
That’s what the movie is exactly like to me – it shows the eagerness and the smudgeness of falling in love. It doesn’t give you the point-by-point details of their relationship; it often skips forward in time and leaves you to fill in the gaps. It doesn’t sketch out every event that happens between Anna and Jacob, but it captures the feeling of it all so well. I appreciated that the movie didn’t patronize me and explain every little detail; it treats you like you’re smarter than that. And in that way, Like Crazy distinguishes itself from 95% of romantic movies, which generally tend to treat you like you’re a moron
What about the things I didn’t like so much? Well, as I mentioned above, I generally thought this movie distinguished itself from a vapid romantic comedy quite well. There were just a couple moments where it veered into too-sappy territory. The one that bothered me the most was when Anna and Jacob stood on opposite sides of a glass door and put their hands up against each other’s. I mean, come on! That’s so cheesy. Who does that? I also thought there were a few too many wistful and moody glances set to equally wistful and moody music.
(SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you don’t want a key plot point revealed.)
Whew. Now that we got my warning out of the way (you did pay attention to it, right?), I’ll say that I was also bothered by one particular plot point. It annoyed me that Anna and Jacob got married. It just felt weird to me, like it came out of left field. I understand that, from a purely bureaucratic standpoint, it was necessary for them to get married. But it just seemed abrupt to me.
This also leads to my next point of annoyance – they wouldn’t have even had to rush into a marriage if Jacob had manned up and moved to London. Your girlfriend, whom you say you’re madly in love with, can’t get a visa. Logically, wouldn’t you try to find a way to go to her instead? Plus, London is an awesome city. Plus, part deux, it’s not like Jacob’s line of work was something that had to be done in Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure you can whittle your damn chairs anywhere, dude.
Finally, I didn’t love the ending – it was a little too vague. I have a very strong opinion about what it meant (in case you were wondering: I think it all hinges on their facial expressions in the shower; it seems like they both realized they had simply changed too much.) Nonetheless, it annoyed me that it wasn’t more definitive. I understand the point of endings like this, and the motivation behind not wrapping everything up in a nice little bow for the audience. But, on the other hand, it kind of annoys me. Like, hey screenwriter, stop being coy! Just tell me what happened. There’s a type of movie where this sort of ending works well, and Like Crazy isn’t that type. The whole vague ending thing works well in a film like Inception, which is supposed to be all mind-bending and thought-provoking. There, I don’t think everything should be spelled out for you. But here, I’d like a little more clarity, please.
I realize that from all the nit-picky things I just mentioned, it might seem like I didn’t love the movie all that much. But I did – it was very, very good. There were just a few things that held it back from being “great.”
My grade: B+