Wednesday 25 January 2012

Transatlanticism: "Like Crazy"

Ah, young love. Drake Doremus's emo-ish drama Like Crazy, source of a minor sensation at last year's Sundance festival, would appear to constitute a breakthrough film for Felicity Jones, some distance after the event: frankly, last March's Chalet Girl was good enough for me. As Miss Jones is new to an American audience, however, Doremus's film permits her to play altogether less mature than she was there, or in the recent Albatross, or indeed even way back in 2010's Cemetery Junction: her character in Like Crazy, aspirant journalist Anna, instead comes to mope and sob her way through the first real relationship of her life.

A Brit in L.A. on a student visa, Anna falls for classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin), only for tempus to fugit and the visa to run out, bouncing her back to the UK at a moment when the pair's skylarking was beginning to look like something more promising yet. They try the long-distance thing for a while, only to find the time difference works against them, and that it turns every moment they get together into a kind of leavetaking: one of the film's more unintentionally amusing aspects is its insistence we need to get this immigration thing sorted out so that cutesy white college kids can bump uglies with greater regularity.

Suffice to say, the film will be more effective the less life experience you've collated: it aspires to tender realism, but is budgeted and pitched in such a way as to count as escapism, allowing us to marvel at what it is to be young, and have a career handed to you on a plate, and to have money enough to shuttle back and forth across the Atlantic, and to book yourself and your lover into plush hotel rooms for those nights when you're not at home in your trendy studio apartment. (Anna apparently comes from a posh family, but her dad's said to be a baker, which does not compute, unless he bakes gold bread - the film's a victim of that American blind spot when it comes to class.)

The performers, at least, have down pat the dorky gestures of two kids in love: she gives him a handwritten Book of Love, chronicling the various stages of their relationship, which is a very sweet thing for anybody to do, while Jacob - starting out on a carpentry career, and making one question what he was doing in a journalism class to begin with - makes Anna a writing chair with his bare hands, positioning a notionally indie production not too far from the mainstream romanticism (and sappiness) of Kevin Costner sanding down his boat in Message in a Bottle. (We know Anna's mooted replacement boyfriend is no good when he replaces this item with generic, shop-built furniture.)

Finally, though, Like Crazy is a Death Cab for Cutie record stretched from five minutes to ninety, and as such, it requires significant viewer indulgence: the endless continent-hopping, which these characters accomplish without noticeable jet lag, will get terribly repetitious if you can't quite bring yourself to invest in a relationship which the film itself finally comes to admit is perilously thin-seeming. I can't say I didn't let slip a guilty sniffle in places - hey, it was one of those afternoons, all right? - but I spent much of it wondering why filmmakers don't make more movies about unrequited love. The rest, surely, takes care of itself.

Like Crazy opens in cinemas nationwide from Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment