29 October 2011

"Like Crazy" Is A Nearly Perfect Little Film

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for Best Picture, "Like Crazy" is a joyous little film. The third film film by 27 year old high school drop-out wunderkind Drake Doremus, (at 19 he was the youngest person to be accepted into AFI) it was made for around $250,000. There are no explosions, and it's filmed hand-held on an off the shelf digital camera. The story itself is not complex or high-concept, but it is told in such a sophisticated and realistic style that you're completely drawn in by the first 3 minutes. Felicity Jones (whom Doremus hired without first meeting based on the strength of her audition tape and who also won a Special Jury prize at Sundance) plays Anna, an exchange student attending university in Los Angeles. There, she meets Jacob, played by Anton Yelchin (Chekov from "Star Trek"), and they fall deeply, passionately in love. She overstays her visa to be with him for the summer, and complications arise, both logistical and emotional.

These two actors make the film, and their star-making turns are mostly improvised off an outline of a script from Doremus and his writing partner Ben York Jones. (The script is reportedly based on a real life long-distance relationship that Doremus had with a girl from Austria, to whom he was briefly married). The performances aren't flashy or understated- they are truthful to the situation, which is always the best you can hope for. So much of the emotion is conveyed through a look rather than a line, just like in reality. The chemistry between Jones and Yelchin is a testament to the powers of good casting. The smallest of exchanges between the two can carry incredible emotional weight. (At the end of their first date, they wind up not kissing, but rather touching hands through a glass door, and the moment is one of the most moving in the film). Even when, at a later point in the film, both realize how much easier it would be to just let go and move on, you fully believe and understand that they can't. ("No other human being makes me feel like you do," Anna says during one of many late night trans-Atlantic phone calls.) The film's biggest strength is that no matter your age, it pours you a double-shot of the intoxicating feeling of the first time you fell madly, deeply, crazily in love.

Screening now in LA and New York, "Like Crazy" should open wider to other cities in the coming weeks. Do yourself a favor and fall for it. The film also features a strong soundtrack including a score by Dustin O' Halloran and songs by M83, Stars, Fool's Gold, and the masterful Paul Simon.

There's a link to the trailer below.


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