Everyone has friends like Jacob and Anna, the twentysomething couple at the center of Like Crazy. They’re the kind of young lovers who, once they start dating anyone seriously, become so completely absorbed in a relationship that all traces of individual identity disappear. Suddenly, their lives become a Coldplay song. Nothing else matters except their love, and the rest of us just can’t understand because that love is so overwhelming, so powerful, so deep.
In short, Jacob and Anna are kind of annoying.
It’s not really their fault, though, and certainly not the fault of Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, the actors who portray them. Both deliver warm, organic performances in this tiny, critically rhapsodized drama. But if a film is about two people drawn together with such gravitational force that it gradually repels them, the attraction needs to be palpable. Through much of Like Crazy, it is not.
Blame, then, falls on director Drake Doremus (Douchebag). He tells a story that spans years yet zooms by so quickly—thanks to several montages and time-lapse sequences that are more artful than effective—the characters never become truly knowable outside the bubble of their all-consuming relationship. Jacob and Anna—he an American design student, she an aspiring journalist from Britain—meet cute at a college in Los Angeles. That happens in the film’s first 45 seconds; within minutes, they’re doing the stuff star-crossed kids always do in movies, like staring meaningfully into each other’s eyes, reading each other’s shitty prose, and that thing where they trace each other’s hand movements while standing on opposite sides of a pane of glass. Rarely do they have a conversation that brings the viewer inside this allegedly transcendent romance. We’re just supposed to accept that their connection is profound, because they drove Indy cars together and spent a weekend on Catalina Island.
And maybe we would accept it, if the obstacles that challenge their relationship didn’t ring so false. Visa problems get Anna deported back to England; Jacob can’t relocate because his furniture-design business is miraculously recession-proof. So begins their long-distance courtship, fraught with multiple breakups and reconciliations, stopgap affairs and contrived symbolism. By the time the legal hurdles keeping them apart are cleared, it’s unclear whether their ongoing love is real or merely a habit. Only at the end does Like Crazy hit a grace note of painful, ambiguous truth, but by then it’s too late. PG-13.
55 SEE IT: Like Crazy opens Friday at Fox Tower.