Every year, the Sundance Film Festival is the premier spot for independent filmmakers to unleash their final products to the world. If they're lucky, a production company will make an offer for their movie, and perhaps millions of viewers will get to the film. Unfortunately, most of the time these little independent gems become forgotten and spend decades collecting dust somewhere. Director Drake Doremus and his film Like Crazy won't be collecting dust, at least not any time soon. When Sundance speaks, audiences listen. And in January of 2011, Sundance spoke loud and clear for Like Crazy.
Like Crazy tells the story of first love between two young college students named Jacob (played by Yelchin) and Anna (played by Jones). While attending school in California, the couple begin a blossoming relationship that they will unknowingly spend years fighting to save. When Anna is set to return home to London because her visa is expiring, she violates its terms in order to continue spending the Summer months with Jacob. At Summer's end she finds her way back to London for a wedding, but Anna quickly flies back to California to be with her man. However, Anna's violation of her visa prohibits her from reentering the United States, and these two young lovers must overcome some mighty obstacles in order to be together again.
As this year's Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, Like Crazy is an authentic and genuine film. It boasts a lot of heart in its mere 90 minutes of screen time. Carried mostly by the powerful performances of its two leads, Like Crazy is an honest depiction of first love. And in many ways, the film draws a strong parallel to last year's independent film Blue Valentine. In similar fashion, the movie shows their relationship evolve by using specific memories and moments the lovers share. Unlike Blue Valentine, however, Like Crazy offers a more gentle and reserved delivery.
What helps make Doremus' picture so memorable and transcending is the film's ability to allow each audience member to project their own memories onto the main characters. By keeping scenes simple and vague, Doremus perfectly creates an intimate experience with his viewers. On the contrary, Like Crazy definitely loses its effectiveness for anyone who doesn't have strong recollections of first love.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opening act of the film, because Jones and Yelchin's onscreen chemistry was sincere and convincing. However, as Like Crazy progresses, its appeal surely dwindles. The film's second act is extremely cyclic, and after a while I was bored of watching these two individuals sort through their problems. And finally, I was slightly unsatisfied by the movie's closing scenes. Its ending left a sour taste in my mouth and I felt unfulfilled by what transpires.