Long-distance relationships can be a strange thing - most of the time they are mistaken for lust or over-excitement. Becoming attracted to someone on holiday or in an unusual situation such as online can magnify feelings which would not normally manifest themselves if you met the same person for the first time over a pint of bitter down at the Dog & Duck. Yet they do happen and many of them fall by the wayside purely because the couple in question haven’t spent enough time with each other to really build a foundation strong enough to withstand days, weeks or even months apart. Like Crazy depicts such a relationship – but can the two protagonists in question really sustain their ‘love’ for one another despite the huge obstacle that is the Atlantic Ocean?
Anna (Jones), a British student studying in Los Angeles notices Jacob (Yelchin), a guy in her class, towards graduation time. They start a friendship which quickly becomes a romance, despite the fact that Anna’s visa deadline is looming large on the horizon. Instead of flying back to the UK when she should, Anna decides to stay on in the US for a summer of fun and sex with Jacob. She returns to London for a family wedding and then back to L.A. as a tourist. When Anna goes through customs, she is detained by the authorities for overstaying her visa on the previous visit and is sent back on the first plane home and consequently banned from entering the country. So begins a long, drawn-out relationship involving phone calls and fleeting jaunts across the Atlantic. As Jacob has a successful furniture design business and Anna’s journalism career is taking off, both are reluctant to make the move.
Anna’s parents Jackie (Alex Kingston) and Bernard (Oliver Muirhead) hire an immigration lawyer in an effort to try to get the ban lifted and Bernard suggests they get married as an alternative. After Jacob returns home, he begins a relationship with work colleague Sam (Jennifer Lawrence). Meanwhile, Anna realises that she cannot carry on without Jacob and so she tells him that they are meant for each other and should do everything they can to be together. Jacob returns to the U.K. and they marry in a private ceremony with Anna’s parents as witnesses. They are told to wait six months before appealing against Anna’s ban again, but after they spend this time apart, they learn that they are once again unsuccessful. Jacob starts up again with Sam and Anna begins a relationship with neighbour Simon (Charlie Bewley). Anna’s ban is finally lifted, but will the couple decide to rekindle their relationship or let sleeping dogs lie?
Like Crazy throws in all the classic hallmarks of a long-distance relationship. The head-in-the-clouds first few dates, the agonising wait to see each other again and the obligatory emotional bloodbath in the airport whenever the couple in question do finally lay eyes on one another. The trouble is, it feels more like a manipulative checklist of emotion rather than a natural progression of a relationship, which this is clearly intended to be. Mostly improvised, the dialogue does have the added dimension of not being forced and at times you do get a sense of being an intrigued fly on the wall as Anna and Jacob are pulled every which way. However, you need to have sympathy for the couple, which isn’t forthcoming due to the fact that Anna brought it upon herself by overstaying her visa, so whatever immigration problems they encounter from then onwards is their fault. When Jacob and Anna are apart, they all too easily fall for other people, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – it’s almost like their characters couldn’t care less – so why should we?
The chemistry between Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin comes and goes. To begin with, they portray their characters’ turmoil well – the pain of leaving and then the relief in returning is nicely conveyed. Such is the contrivance of the plot that after their first separation, there appears to be a sudden decline in desire for each other – in real-life you would surely call time on the relationship, but then this wouldn’t be a very long film. Jones’ performance is a touch wooden – perhaps she tries too hard to play the ‘dainty British girl from London’ by emphasising her diction a little too much. Yelchin on the other hand is so laid-back he’s practically asleep for most of the film and his character doesn’t seem that bothered who he’s with. There are three stars here though - all of whom get little screen time. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Jacob’s interim girlfriend is superb – she’ll go a long way, that one. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s quirky parents are a great double act and manage to lighten the mood once you’ve had quite enough of Anna’s whining.
Like Crazy doesn’t contain as much passion as its title suggests – maybe it should be called Like Meh. Drake Doremus directs with some style, but there’s something missing among the interesting ideas being thrown around. Still, if you’re thinking of having a long-distance relationship after meeting someone on a drunken holiday this summer then sober up, watch this and maybe you’ll realise that you are, like, crazy.