Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Like Crazy

This is the second movie I've seen at the Coolidge-hosted "Talk Cinema" series, and as with Eye-Opener and CineCaché flicks, some of what I write about in the review is not insight I've reached unaided. And, as usual, I had a bit of a "hey, don't say anything about the movie before it starts" reaction to Ty Burr's intro. It's not just Burr, of course - every entry in one of these screening series seems to start with the host saying he or she learned this, that, or the other thing while researching the movie, and this really struck me when I saw the movie at a festival, and the director is best known for doing this thing... but I don't want to say too much. And I'm thinking, geez, you just did.

And now, to avoid being a total hypocrite, I'll let you jump right to the review (or, heck, the Full version at EFC) before getting into what association I heard that I could have done without. Note that there's going to be some spoilers in the next section.

Okay, no need to go crazy with the blank space.

The word Burr used that I didn't really need influencing how I thought about the movie was "mumblecore", along with the usual note about how the people most associated with it hate it. As much as that's where director Drake Doremus came from, and how there are certain similarities between this and a typical mumblecore picture, I don't really think of this as being near that category. Mainly, it's because too much money is spent on it - it's slick looking, shot in London and Los Angeles, and has River Song and Pavel Chekov in the cast as opposed to just the director's fellow film/music buddies. Clearly, Doremus has graduated from "underground" to "indie".

One thing that ran through my mind during the post-film discussion (I probably should have raised my hand and mentioned it, but the conversation went in a different direction very quickly) is that a lot of the young filmmakers making films like this never seem to have held long-term jobs, and soemtimes don't seem to get the mindset. Sure, maybe Jacob's indifference to deadlines is supposed to reflect how Anna didn't give thought to the consequences of overstaying her ­visa, and young people apparently do quit jobs for emotional reasons like Anna does at the end, but... Well, the movie is meant to cover three years, and a person does get settled in a job by then; the thought of losing insurance coverage and retirement benefits gives one pause. I kind of wonder whether a filmmaker in his twenties would get this, though; it's a life where you're less "unemployed" than "between gigs", and while you may have a much more intense identification with what you do with half your waking hours than those of us who sit behind a desk, you also know that it's a temporary thing.

Another thing: The filmmakers could have done much better in indicating that there was time passing; though they probably didn't have the sort of shooting schedule to show the change of seasons (which they don't have in L.A. anyway), you could give the characters haircuts or something. It's mainly a problem as it relates to the other boyfriends and girlfriends we meet - we've barely heard that Jacob and Anna agreed to Just Be Friends sometime earlier before we meet Jennifer Lawrence's Sam, and in the last act, it's not long after we see Jacob and Anna have gotten married (and then having some issues) that we jump forward far enough to hear that Anna and Charlie Bewley's Simon have been seeing each other for six months.

That's a real problem with the end of the movie, quite honestly - even though the marriage was presented as roughly equal problem-solving and true love, that Anna and Jacob seem to be dismissing it so quickly from the audience's perspective does a number on any sympathy we may feel for them when the visa problems clear up and they get back together. Up until then, their relationship was immature, but at least it was genuine; this sort of pulls the rug out from under the characters in the wrong way, and Doremus's tendency to skip over pivitol moments really hurts the movie especially badly here.

It's not a bad movie by any means, but it's also not that much better than the trailer that seems to have been on repeat at the theater for the last month or two. As I mention in the review, I think it will do well over time as the younger audience that is maybe inclined to take it at face value eventually gets to look at it with a more mature perspective.

Like Crazy

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 23 October 2011 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (Talk Cinema)

First love can burn very bright but not be that complicated, and since that's what Like Crazy is about, it makes a bit of sense for it to have a certain shallowness about it as well. The question is whether the movie demonstrates this sort of unconditional affection or whether it falls victim to it, even when the audience may be ready for more.

The two young lovers start out as students at a Los Angeles college. Anna (Felicity Jones) is a journalism major from England; Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is a local studying furniture design. They connect and fall hard for each other, and when Anna's student visa expires, she stays for the summer before returning home for a family wedding. The government is not particularly flexible about this sort of thing, though, and she's deported before Jacob can pick her up. Her parents (Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead) hire a lawyer to help sort things out, but in the meantime, a long-distance relationship can be a fragile thing.

The movie has a lot going for it, most obviously Felicity Jones. Anna is a part that would be very easy to oversell; she's got to be smart and passionate but also very immature at times. That immaturity is not exaggerated, though, so it's something that the audience recognizes as it starts to recede. It's quite the charming performance, all the more so because we get a chance to discover Anna's flaws without ever being pushed to turn on her.

Full review at EFC.


Rochelle said...

I cannot wait to see this Film, and for it to come out over here. I saw the review on rotten tomatoes and it honestly didn't do bad at all. I think it sounds like a beautiful movie, then again I'm into this sort of thing. :) Will let you know what I think. Great review-thanks for posting it.

Unknown said...

Loved Felicity here!
Blogged about this movie yesterday but I failed to mention how irritated I was for Anna sometimes...she seems smart but does very dumb things...