At the age of 28, writer/director Drake Doremus brought a film to Sundance for the second time (2009’s Douchebag was the first). It won the Grand Jury Prize, then went on to a profitable theatrical run. (The movie was reportedly shot for $250,000 and made around $3.5M worldwide).
Like Crazy is the story of two college students, Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin). They have a passionate love affair and Anna, who is British, opts to overstay her student visa to extend the lovemaking. This creates problems with US Immigration, who bars her from the country. Anna and Jacob drift apart, see other people, but can’t seem to shake each other. And so the romance is rekindled when Jacob visits Anna in London. Further complications separate them, and by that point in the film you’re either rooting for their love or pretty sick of it.
I fell into the latter camp. Much hay was made of the film’s “French New Wave style” but I’d say it is more a ‘French New Wave awareness’ than a conscious use of the style. The film is told very conventionally and linearly, with a few artsy montages here and there, and some plot gapping which forces the audience to fill in the B between A and C. Dramatically, the first part where the lovers have a passionate affair is cute but dull, since there is no conflict. (They fall in love with each other instantly.) It is only when Anna and Jacob become separated that the film gets interesting. But then, they do things that defile their sacred relationship, and as an audience member I stopped rooting for them to get back together.
Not that the actors didn’t do a fine job, especially considering the dialogue was reportedly improvised. Both Yelchin and Jones were exceedingly natural and believable, and Jennifer Lawrence and Charley Bewley (as the other woman/other man) were good enough that I wish the film had spent more time exploring how their characters were dealing with the situation. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead, as Anna’s parents, also deserve a nod.
Shot on Canon 7D, Like Crazy features the contrasty look (low dynamic range) and blown highlights you would expect from the camera’s limitations, while making great use of shallow depth of field in the many artsy closeups. If there was rolling shutter artifacting, I did not notice it. Impressive, since a majority of the film is shot hand-held. Overall, this a textbook for DSLR shooting and essential viewing to anyone who plans to shoot this way.
This is a very easy review because the disc features absolutely no bonus features whatsoever. Not even a commentary from writer/director Drake Doremus. Is this movie a thinly-disguised version of his own relationship with his Austrian ex-wife Desiree Pappensheller? We’ll not find out here. How did the filmmakers land such a great group of actors? What was the improv method used? Anything they learned shooting with the Canon 7D?
This is a huge oversight. Paramount, the film’s distributor in the US, should really have provided something for fans, even if this is a small film. It’s not like they don’t know how. Their recent Hugo Blu-ray features outstanding bonus content.
Even given my personal reservations with the film, I am highly recommending this to all indies who aspire to get to Sundance on a low budget. You can make up for the lack of extras on the DVD by renting instead of buying and then following some of the links I provide below. Enjoy!