Like Crazy: The painfully-honest relationship movie 500 Days of Summer wanted to be
Like Crazy pulls a dirty trick. It makes you fall in love along with two cute little college students, then tears them apart, and spends the rest of movie dangling their perfect, mutually-adoring relationship just out of reach. DAMN YOU, LIKE CRAZY! CAN’T YOU SEE THESE ATTRACTIVE CAUCASIANS WERE MEANT FOR EACH OTHER?! THEIR HAPPINESS IS ALL I’VE EVER WANTED!
It’s totally manipulative and obnoxiously effective, but somewhere in the midst of watching two lovelorn honkeys fight desperately against time and geography to recapture the magic of the honeymoon period of their relationship (are we soul mates? were we just young and stupid? is it true love or hormones? are we in love with each other or just youth?), is something absolutely true and timeless and affecting about the nature of relationships. It hurt to watch at times. It hurt to write that. Frankly, it turned me into a big ol’ girl, and that’s no small feat when you’re a burly lumberjack.
Anton Yelchin (Jacob) and Felicity Jones (Anna) get a meet-cute in the first five minutes (actually, it’s more of a vaguely-obnoxious meet-intellectual, complete with a brief poetry reading – part of which you can see in the trailer – but it’s short enough and not really the point). Their fling begins at college, where one day out of the blue, Anna throws herself at Jacob, leaving him a flirty love letter (because when you’ve got Anton Yelchin’s Jewy ringlets and rugged pastiness, the world is your vagina oyster). They go on a date, and soon, they’ve bonded over Paul Simon’s Graceland (a perfect album choice, and a great way to make up for annoying us with poetry), and fallen adorably, inexorably in love. It turns out she’s a writer who wants to be a journalist (hence all the poetry and the note writing), and he’s majoring in furniture design. Apparently with an emphasis in chairs, because Jacob spends the rest of the film casually drawing chairs in his notebook in every free moment. Never a couch, never a cabinet or an armoir or a table, just chairs. And not actual design plans with materials or measurements, just loving, boardwalk-style portraits of chairs, because apparently that’s the most effective way to communicate the chair-design inspiration process. Eventually, Jacob seals their love by making Anna a chair (an incredibly uncomfortable-looking one), with “LIKE CRAZY” etched on the bottom. Presumably, because he loves her “LIKE CRAZY.” (As much as he likes drawing chairs, even).
Everything’s perfect for them until she overstays her student visa to be with him, and then because of it, when she finally does go home, she gets denied a travel visa upon her return and deported. The three months that they would’ve been apart turns into at least six before she can reapply. Soon, he gets caught up with a good job in LA (LEAD ARTIST, CHAIR DIVISION), she with the same in London, and their relationship isn’t so convenient anymore.
The rest of the film consists of them periodically reuniting and being separated, always trying to recapture that magical, sunny-day Paul Simon song of initial attraction.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: God forbid he just move to London to be with her, he DRAWS CHAIRS for a living, it’s not as if you could just do that ANYWHERE. That’s just one of the many frustrating thoughts you have throughout Like Crazy, but the bigger issue is that you even care. Where two financially-secure 20-somethings (obnoxiously financially secure, even) might put their genitals at night generally isn’t high on my list of worries, and yet I swear it was all I could do not to yell at the screen. “ANNA, IF YOU GO OUT WITH THAT SMUG BRITISH DOUCHE I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL SLIT MY WRISTS!”
She did go out with him too, and do you know what that buttoned-down British asshole tried to do? HE BOUGHT HER A NEW CHAIR! LIKE A TOTAL SCUMBAG! The nerve of that guy. (Okay, truth be told, the British guy’s chair looked more comfortable, but still, fuck him and his stupid angular hair, that’s not the chair she was meant to sit on).
It’s hard not to be swept up in a film that feels so real. Yelchin and and Jones reportedly improvised the majority of the dialog based on a “50-page outline that felt like a short story,” (according to director Drake Doremus), and whether it’s a credit to that or the acting, things rarely felt forced. The two leads relate so well to each other, and convey so perfectly the growing pains of young love, that you’re willing to accept certain imperfections, like them not being able to get it together, or that Anna’s British fling would try to propose to her in front of her parents without asking her first (Earth to movies: no one ever fucking does that), or that Anton Yelchin’s big dilemma in life is whether he wants to be with ridiculously super pretty Felicity Jones or retardedly hot Jennifer Lawrence.
But in the end, I bought it.
These are the days of miracles and wondaaah/This is a loooong distance caaall…
GRADE: Four out of five writing chairs.
“Draw me like one of your French doors, Jake.”