‘Like Crazy’: Love isn’t always hearts and roses

In most romantic dramas or comedies, the audience can be fairly certain the two leads will end up together happily ever after. That’s not the case in Like Crazy, which is one of the more untraditional love stories I’ve seen in a while.

To be clear, I’m not saying if the couple does or doesn’t end up together; I’m just saying it’s not obvious from the beginning how the movie will end. A refreshing lack of saccharine romance is also missing from writer/director Drake Doremus’ low-key drama, in which a couple of college-age kids meet, fall in love and move in together.

So what’s the problem, you ask? The young lady, Anna (Felicity Jones), is attending college on a student visa from London while her gentleman caller, Jacob (Anton Yelchin), is from the good ’ol U.S. of A.

I guess Anna and Jacob didn’t get the memo that being young and in love often causes some stupidity. Anna unwisely overstays her visa because she doesn’t want to leave Jacob after graduation. Eventually Anna goes back home for a wedding, but learns she’s banned from the U.S. when she attempts to return.

The obvious question and answer to me (and probably to many others) was if they were so in love why not just get married? And since she can’t get into the U.S., why doesn’t he move to London? Well, the movie would have no reason to continue if such a simple resolution were pursued, so we must watch Jacob and Anna break up and attempt to be friends while they both move on with new lovers.

Jacob moves on with Sam (Jennifer Lawrence), who works with him on his furniture-building business, while Anna gets cozy with her neighbor Simon (Charlie Bewley).

But, like any couple who think they are meant to be together, Jacob and Anna are unable to forget each other and go on a rollercoaster ride of on-again, off-again love across the miles. The ending leaves things ambiguous; the audience gets to decide what happens after the screen goes dark.

Some may find that approach disappointing, but it worked with the rest of the film.

Overall, I enjoyed the flick, but I think it would have been better if the actors had more chemistry. I didn’t necessarily root for them to be together, which could have been because the falling-in-loves scenes happened pretty quickly. Or it just could have been because Yelchin and Jones lacked sufficient heat. The most emotional moment for me involved the relationship between Jacob and Sam. Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar-nominated in Winter’s Bone, and starring in the upcoming Hunger Games movie) probably had no more than 10 or 20 lines in the entire film, but it took only one scene for her to steal the movie. It seems that it should have been up to Jacob and Anna to provide the tearjerker moments.

The supporting roles of Anna’s parents (Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead) provided the movie’s few laughable moments, mainly over dinner and drinks with Anna and Jacob.

Like Crazy attempts to tell the tale of forbidden love, though I never truly found their obstacles insurmountable. Like Crazy is best suited to those who appreciate an unconventional romantic story, and those who are tired of the typical rom-com but are romantics at heart. ••

Movie Grade: B