This is a film by young director Drake Doremus about two young people met-cute and fell in love with each other like crazy.
Jacob (Anton Yelchin) was a design student in a Los Angeles university. He doubled as a lecturer’s assistant in a media study class where Anna (Felicity Jones), a British student, studied. Both met at that class, exchanging glances. Anna then confessed to Jacob how she felt for him in a letter she slipped on Jacob’s windshield. The same feeling Jacob had for Anna.
They had an effortlessly sweet first date. Sipping drinks in a cafe, walking side by side and talking, trying to get to know each other, awkward smiles, and lingering glances summarized these lovestrucks’ first date. Anna invited Jacob into her apartment, where Jacob asked her to read him one of her writings.
“I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it. But I didn’t, not really. Only the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered, all-containered, semi-precious eagerness of it. I didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. Because it’s the halves that halve you in half. I didn’t know, don’t know, about the in-between bits; the gory bits of you, and the gory bits me.”
Jacob and Anna traded glances and little smirks. Their date ended with their fingers touching from both sides of Anna’s apartment window, once again exchanging smirks and lingering glances.
Soon, Doremus took us into the relationship between Jacob and Anna, who had become a couple. They both were inseparable. We see them walked side by side, hold hands, hugged, and played on the beach. The lingering glances and the little smirks were still there, too. We saw them kissed lightly every once in a while.
Like Crazy is a film that projects the intense yet exasperating feeling of young love. The hand-held camera used to shoot the film produced such shaky and sometimes rapid movements while switching the frame from one character to another. This gave a sense of intimacy between us–the audiences–and Jacob and Anna as the couple we spectacle. The camera followed Jacob and Anna very closely, it felt as if the camera was a stalker voyeouring into their lives. Either the camera was stalking or not, in this way we felt these two characters [as if they were] real. The scenes in this film felt raw–in a positive connotation–that we didn’t really feel that we were watching a fictional film. Instead, it felt as if we were watching this couple’s self-made video that documented their relationship. Several fragment-like scenes gave an additional notion that this film were Jacob’s and Anna’s scrapbook of relationship.
Other aspects of this film were also crucial in heightening the realistic feel of Jacob, Anna, and their relationship. The depiction of their living spaces, the way they dressed, and the activities they did as a couple felt down to earth and logical; unlike the usual romantic drama that used places and costumes so pretty and fashionable they looked like they were a spread in a magazine. Jacob and Anna dressed up as real-life normal young persons, stylish but not over the top and also a bit messy. Whether the whole things were coherently constructed by director Doremus or were influenced by the production’s budget limitation, most importantly the simplicity in the aspects above enabled us to integrate ourselves more into the two characters.
Off course, the actors’ performances were pivotal in order to make us feel that the characters were real and resonating. For me, Yelchin and Jones performances here were convincing. Both had the chemistry needed to make Jacob and Anna on screen felt natural. Yelchin was 21, like how I imagined Jacob’s age in the beginning of the film. His lean and delicate physical appearance imbued sympathy for Jacob. He looked so young and vulnerable, but with flickering eyes that always wondered. Jones, who was 27, was older than Anna yet she looked child-like and lively. I personally think Jones nailed it. In playing Anna, Jones didn’t only pull a distinct appeal to the child-like lively character of Anna, so ardent she was [almost] naive, in contrast with the calm and silent Jacob; but Jones also could raise a peevish feeling–at least for me–because in a way she was being a spoil, impulsive, and reckless.
Yes, reckless. Anna decided not to go back to England when her student visa expired. On the contrary, she decided–with a little bit of persuasion to Jacob–to spend their summer together in Los Angeles. Jacob couldn’t resist Anna’s request and from then on their relationship was being tested.
Anna’s visa violation resulted in her being banned from the US for several years. Both of them were forced to endure a long distance relationship with a status so vague they could hardly live normal. Emotionally, both were tied to each other and unable to focus in living their separate lives. It seemed as if there were an incomplete part in their lives, but at the same time, both of them had also fallen sideways to other persons. We saw Jacob and Anna constantly juggling balls, unable to find balance.
Doremus, through this film, succeeded in building up so many points of view in the audiences’ mind. In one side, we were dumbfounded seeing Jacob and Anna so young, naive, and delicate we secretly wished no harm will occur upon them. In other side, we were discontented to see Anna’s reckless decision. Obligating the student visa rules and being separated for a few months, to audiences’ objective eyes, were a logical choice compared to impulsively spending summertime together only to be separated later, for years. The powerlessness of a long distance relationship that Jacob and Anna doomed to endure in the middle of high technology era also felt illogical. So did when they started a sub-relationship with insignificant others while all the time they still say they were in love with each other.
“It just doesn’t feel like I’m a part of your life, I feel like I’m on vacation,” said Jacob when he, in the spur of the moment visited Anna in London.
What Jacob and Anna did seemed to be illogical. Nevertheless, seen from a falling-in-love-like-crazy point of view, all seemed logical. Out of desperation they cope.
“I just have to say one thing and it’s just really important that you listen to me. I just, it just doesn’t feel like this, this thing is going to go away. It’s always there. I can’t, I can’t get on with my life… there’s things that we have with each other that I don’t have with any other person, with any other human being, apart from you. We should be with each other. And I feel it so strongly.”
Having seen them apart and desperate to be with each other in flesh and blood, burgeoned rhetorical questions for us. Is this love? Or is this just a temporary feeling, just a kind of affection fueled by the passion of young age, that eventually will be swept away as time goes by?
A kind of rhetorical questions reflected in Anna’s writing that she read to Jacob on their first date.
Like Crazy is a film having the capability to command us to hold our breath and then sigh. Torn in between sinking our hearts to see this young couple, and also rekindling our long buried feelings and [perhaps] memories about that first flame, too… or maybe asking, is young love this complicated?
“Okay. Oh, man. Okay.”-Jacob