Jones (with a name that would make a great Bond girl) plays Anna, a British student in college in Los Angeles. She is smitten with a teaching assistant (Anton Yelchin), and leaves him a note on his car. This seems a bit of a male fantasy (the film was written by two men, Drake Doremus, the director, and Ben York Jones)–that a beautiful girl would make a grand, slightly nutty play for a guy like that.
Yelchin, naturally, takes the bait and the two fall in love, but after graduation Jones’ student visa expires. The plan is for her to go back to England for the summer and then return on a work visa. Impetuously and colossally stupidly, she decides to stay. When she goes home for a wedding and tries to get back into the country, they deny her and put her on a plane back to England. What will these two young lovers do?
From the accounts I’ve heard (I saw Jones in an appearance on David Letterman), the dialogue in Like Crazy was improvised, and it seems that way, as much of it is banal. It does ring true, though, especially the awkward moments, such as their first date and whenever they’ve reunited after a long absence. But in the film’s middle section, when they are separated by an eight-hour time time difference and start to drift apart, it’s hard to sympathize with them, because they were so dim. Yelchin even gives Jones a bracelet with the word “Patience” inscribed on it, but this gesture goes unheeded.
Nevertheless, Jones’ performance is so charismatic that she kept pulling me back in. Part of this, no doubt, is because I’m a male, but beyond her physical appeal is a subtle range of acting that is most impressive. Her expression in the airport, when she’s told she will not be allowed to leave the building and be put on a plane straightaway to the U.K., is such a display of devastating sadness that it’s breathtaking. Compared to Jones, Yelchin comes off as a kind of non-entity; it’s her film.
Aside from my mash note to Jones, there’s not too much to shout about Like Crazy. It does capture some of the problems of the long-distance relationship (I should know, I specialize in them). The two end up with other people (Yelchin with Jennifer Lawrence, in an almost silent part). I would like the problem of choosing between Jones and Lawrence, though Yelchin is in torment.
Like Crazy is a nice film that may remind one of one’s youthful romantic adventures, but other than Jones’ performance, I will have forgotten most of it by tomorrow.
My grade for Like Crazy: C+