The latest from director Drake Doremus is a bit like 500 Days of Summer only minus the snark and twee.
Director: Drake Doremus Rating: PG-13 Studio: Andrea Sperling Productions
There are things to like—and a few to love—in Like Crazy, the small, simple, fresh about first love that took the Grand Jury Prize at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival. Directed and co-written by Drake Doremus (Douchebag) and shot in improvisational, shaky-cam style, the comedy drama features the ridiculously likeable duo of Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) and Felicity Jones as college students—she’s a Brit on a study visa, he’s an American and budding furniture designer. They meet in a writing class, hang out, discover their mutual affinity for things like Paul Simon’s Graceland and spend a couple of picturesque montage sequences roaming around places like the Santa Monica Pier while gazing wondrously into each other’s eyes. Before they realize it, they’re caught in a feverishly intense romance that persuades Jones to impulsively overstay her visa, an act that causes big problems for them both.
The movie is romantic, charming and incredibly sweet. Its raggedy, heart-on-its sleeve 1970s feel is unexpected and refreshing. Although you can’t accuse the two main characters of being particularly deep, the wide-eyed innocence, honesty and skill of Yelchin and Jones, let alone the exceptionally good moviemaking, send you out of the theater feeling very good. Think of Like Crazy as a bit like 500 Days of Summer, only minus the snark and the twee. Or, put another way, it’s a Blue Valentine that doesn’t send you reaching for a bottle of antidepressants.
All credit to Doremus and cowriter Ben York Jones (star of Doremus’s enjoyable Douchebag) for steering clear of a number of contemporary movie clichés. Like Crazy is an irony-free zone, it features no animated credit sequence and mostly avoids a “cool indie” soundtrack. There’s also the pleasure of enjoying really good, all-too-brief work from Jennifer Lawrence as the pretty, loving young woman with whom Yelchin probably should have stayed, Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Jones’s wealthy parents and Twilight favorite Charlie Bewley as Jones’s alternative live-in boyfriend.