Like Crazy, USA, 2011
Dir: Drake Doremus
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence
We've all been there. We meet the right one. Then we lose them, but only for a short while, then we get back together, and then one of us fucks up and we lose each other for good. Hollywood drums up a similar tale, Like Crazy (as in “I love you like crazy"). The film is being released this weekend in select cities across the U.S. and is directed and co-written by 28-year-old Drake Doremus, who based many parts of the film on his own failed marriage experience.
It has become a tradition that the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival receives monumental attention, including a theatrical release, and in recent years, multiple nominations at the Academy Awards. In 2006, Indie darling Little Miss Sunshine won two Oscars and grossed over a $100 million domestically. In 2009, Lee Daniels directed Precious, which earned him two Oscar nods and was one of the most critically acclaimed releases of the year. In 2010, Winter’s Bone, which also won the top prize at Sundance garnered great reviews upon release and was nominated for four Academy Awards. So it comes as no surprise that this year’s best film as voted by the Sundance jury gets its share of kudos and acclaim now that the awards seasons has begun. Like Crazy, starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as Jacob and Anna, is a typical love story told in a refreshing and intimate way.
Yelchin and Jones excel as a couple that are kept apart by immigration laws and secret affairs and they help create an absorbing and touching love story. Many parts of the film, however, were improvised. Director Drake Doremus said he often left the camera rolling for up to a half an hour at a time just to capture the two together. As the pair is torn apart by distance and time, the film grows sparser and more pained, the uncertainty between Jacob and Anna more obvious. The film also features Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Samantha, Jacob’s secretary and on again/off again girlfriend.
Like Crazy was produced far outside the Hollywood studio system for just $250,000 and surprised everyone when it became an unexpected sensation at this past year's Sundance Film Festival. The project was a true collaboration. Director Drake Doremus and Co-Writer Ben York Jones put together a 52-page outline for the movie, creating characters very loosely based on their past long-distance relationships. Once they cast Yelchin and Jones, they gave the actors room to bring the script to life with improvisation that created its own unique reality.
The film beautifully illustrates and explores the complex fragility of first love. After an impressive effort from a group of extremely talented 20-somethings, one is eager to see what the future holds for the artists and performers involved. Like Crazy might not be the most talked about movie of the year, but it is certainly one of the best films you’ll see all year.