Yelchin, Jones star as doomed couple

By Drew Hunt

Hipsters in love: It’s a bankable genre ripe for the picking. Enter the new film “Like Crazy,” one that may depict the travails of young Pitchfork enthusiasts but, thanks to the inspired vision of director Drake Doremus, operates on another level entirely.

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones play college students Jacob and Anna. He’s a design major with a future in furniture, and she’s a native Londoner in the States on a student visa which expires upon her graduation. As young lovers are prone to do, they impetuously decide to let international customs be damned and enjoy their first summer together.

But before long, Anna is shipped back to England, putting a strain on their relationship that endures career surges, new lovers and shifting feelings during the course of a few years.

Like most movies about young adults in love, “Like Crazy” is often sentimental and overwrought with emotionalism. As Jacob and Anna have their ups and downs, the tumult grows more tedious, verging on exasperation. But Doremus saves his film with a strong visual command, making “Like Crazy” better than it probably has any right to be.

Doremus’ last film, the absurdly titled “Douchebag,” was a run-of-the-mill mumblecore movie. For “Like Crazy,” he’s amped up the dramatics but kept a similar style: consumer-grade aesthetics merged with do-it-yourself production methods, resulting in moments that feel remarkably real—like when Jacob and Anna first begin their courtship.

It’s during these moments that “Like Crazy” is at its most endearing. The idyllic blossoming of this new relationship is captured with all the tranquility one might associate with such an occasion. Thanks to Doremus’ delicately observant camera, which follows the young couple on their first dates and romantic encounters, “Like Crazy” sometimes feels as naturalistic as a home movie.

There are no bells or whistles attached to the film, no glossy overcoat to hide nitpicky inconsistencies. But more often than not, the film is outright gorgeous to look at, if only because Doremus is aware of the beauty in simple imagery.

Thematically, however, the film is too weighty for its own good. Jacob and Anna’s relationship, though treated with the utmost sincerity, is melodrama gone wrong. A film like this need stakes. “Like Crazy,” as much as it depends on its narrative to propel its action, lacks them completely.

The plight of Jacob and Anna is simply uninteresting, and to be blunt, unimportant. The film reveals nothing about the nature of human relationships that hasn’t been unearthed before. And though Doremus likely isn’t shooting for such lofty heights, the fact remains that the dramatic thrust of “Like Crazy” amounts to very little.

However, almost serendipitously, the film ends on a final image that would scare the dickens out of major studios and mainstream audiences. It’s not a happy ending or a sad ending, but a realistic one, akin to powerful earlier scenes but serving a far different purpose. This last note, seemingly innocuous out of context, is enough to save “Like Crazy” from the syrupy depths of a teenage romance and make it one of the best love stories of the year.